Feel-Good Friday: The Power of Mentorship - Each One, Teach One

Justin Mutawassim, Ivor Martin, and a multigenerational orchestra demonstrate the power of mentorship. (Collage credit: Top L. and bottom: NBC News/Top R. South Dakota Symphony Orchestra via AP

The power of multigenerational mentorship in strengthening our bonds as a society cannot be understated. These Feel-Good Friday stories were featured in February and June, but they reflect how mentoring others not only changes the trajectory of a life but changes the world around us.


The Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) Eisner Intergenerational Orchestra is an ingenious project that brings together musicians from all age groups and different cultural backgrounds. They meet on Monday evenings, and the benefit is not only building music for the community but interacting around the common goal of artistic excellence. The first group got its start in 2019 and ranged in age from 14 to 76. Conductor Daniel Suk saw beyond the vision of iron sharpening iron to one of renewing connection between the young and the old.

Suk, 50, believed from the outset that the orchestra had more than one calling.

“We’re facing an absolute crisis,” he said. “I see seniors who are just so lonely and a younger generation that has no connection to them. … You go to a family gathering, and there’s no conversation any more.”

After months of planning, the pandemic delayed the dream. But the orchestra finally gathered in the summer of 2021 and began practicing, growing and performing. HOLA later expanded the concept, starting a jazz band and a choir.


Part of HOLA’s mission is to create a pathway for opportunities through free after-school programs in academics, athletics, and the arts. Its vision aligned with Suk’s to connect people across differing ages and backgrounds and to create a deeper sense of community.

And it’s happening in Los Angeles of all places, a city that so desperately needs care and connection.

Then there is the beautiful story of Justin Mutawassim, who happened to love planes. So in 2016, at the age of 19, Justin decided to work as a ramp attendant for Delta Airlines. Ivor Martin was a pilot with whom he developed a friendship, and Justin shared his dream of one day flying planes. Martin took him seriously, and over the course of a year, Martin helped Justin chart a career path that would lead to him becoming a pilot.

When NBC News asked Martin why he did it, he talked about how where he grew up in the U.K., he did not see any pilots that looked like him. It was only after he found a group called Black Aerospace Professionals that his vision and outlook began to change.

I came across the organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. They guided me and I had mentors in my life who changed my life. So I said my goal is to pay it forward down the line.

Fast forward six years later. Martin helped Justin to prepare for and pass all his testing and requirements, and Justin fulfilled his dream of becoming a pilot. He started out flying for regional airlines before coming back to Delta Airlines as a pilot. Martin had moved on to Alaska Airlines and is now a captain. When Justin received his wings, Martin was there beside him.

Justin had this to say about why his story is important.

I think if we are better to each other and our neighbors we can all progress as people.





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