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Mentoring for Life

Bob and Barbara Henderson

Bob Henderson has been mentoring for 47 years, two years longer than Futures for Children has been in operation. Bob and his late wife, Barbara, began their mentorship experience as part of a program run by Save the Children on the Hopi reservation. During the next four decades they committed to the guidance of four students. Three of the children were members of the same family.

They began mentoring in 1966 and were assigned a 5-year-old Hopi girl named Shirley Tomosie from Polacca, AZ. Excited about this new experience and wanting to meet their student, they traveled to Arizona from their home in Massachusetts to visit Shirley and her family. The Hendersons were warmly welcomed by the Tomosie family, and this gathering marked the beginning of long friendships that continue to this day.

They mentored Shirley until her graduation from high school and then began the sponsorship of another Hopi student named Darren Tungovia, a first grade boy from Kykotsmovi, AZ. Occurring near the occasion of Darren’s high school graduation, Save the Children discontinued their program on the Hopi Reservation. The Hendersons learned that a new organization called Futures for Children was now offering mentoring opportunities in Hopiland and that their first student, Shirley Tomosie, had requested a mentor for her second child through FFC.

Bob and Barbara applied for mentorship of Shirley’s daughter, Frances Susunkewa, who served to reacquaint them with the Tomosie family. A few years later, they began sponsorship of another family member, Shirley’s niece, Joelle Mansfield.

Barbara Henderson played an important role in their mentorships and kept in close contact with the students and their families until her death in September 2011. Bob maintains that the friendships they cultivated together are a meaningful part of his life. He states, “It has brought much joy and happiness over these many years. My life has been enriched in so many ways.” It is no surprise that Bob’s birthday card list includes the names of 36 Hopi friends.

Bob expressed his enthusiam for the work of Futures for Children with this statement, “Thanks to the Futures for Children organization for all they do to encourage Indian children and their families to complete the children’s education. I’m proud to play a small part in your fine program.” Thank you, Bob, for your dedication to the futures of American Indian students.

Bob provided FFC with an update on the status of his four mentored students who have all attained personal and professional success.
Shirley Tomosie - Secretary to the head of Hopi High School Athletic Department; married with four children
Darren Tungovia - Manager of the Hopi Cultural Center Motel and Restaurant; married with three children
Frances Susunkewa - Social Worker for children and families with the City of Flagstaff; married with one child
Joelle Mansfield - 2nd year of college; significant other and one child