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David Gregory and mentee Steve Cherenfant lean on each other for support.
David Gregory and mentee Steve Cherenfant lean on each other for support. / Gary Landsman

USA WEEKEND Magazine and NBC News join together for Make A Difference Day 2011

Now through October, read inspirational messages from NBC anchors here and learn more about Make A Difference Day during NBC Nightly News. Each year, USA WEEKENDís Make A Difference Day and Nightly Newsí Making a Difference inspire millions to help others.

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My job has given me a very public platform that allows me to meet and interact with incredible people all over the world. But itís nice to know that one of my most treasured relationships is with someone who really doesnít care what I do for a living or that Iím on TV.

For a little over a year, Iíve been mentoring a young man named Steve Cherenfant through Sasha Bruce Youthwork in Washington, D.C. Steveís mother died in childbirth in Haiti. His father struggled emotionally and financially and died a few years ago.

Steve had spent a lot of time on his own and was struggling to get his life together. He just needed a friend, somebody who could be there and support him.

Steve reminds me that often the best influence you can have is just being a good friend. Far more important than any advice I can give or words I can say is the simple act of showing up and being present in Steveís life. We have lunch or coffee together. We go to baseball games or the movies. Iím someone he can call with a question, someone he knows he can count on. It doesnít have to be more complicated than that.

Itís really meaningful that what I can offer Steve isnít about my job. Itís about who I am and who I want to be as a person. Giving of myself and my time in a direct relationship with him is incredibly powerful. I feel as if itís a real fulfillment of my potential.

On Oct. 22, I urge you to think about how you can have that human connection. We all have something to offer. Itís so important to be able to step out of our comfort zone and share the benefit of our experience with others who are trying to find their way.

You can make a real difference and have real impact. I havenít experienced anything more satisfying than that.

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