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A Big Reminder from a Little Experience

Community Voice Pensacola Fire Chief Ginny Cranor

It’s bold to start with a big sweeping statement, but here goes: “You can mentor.” Now just hear me out, please.


Throughout my career, both in the fire service and as a nurse, mentors have offered wisdom gained through their own journeys.

These men and women were generous enough to help me navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and learn from the mistakes they made. Sometimes there were formally designated “role models” and sometimes someone unknowingly lit the way with their actions. Those intentional Daniel/Mr. Miagi-style alliances provided a safe space to express my concerns, fears, and aspirations.

They listened and led with empathy in a way that helped me build confidence and develop resilience. It was often crucial, path-defining guidance and perspective, especially to this young, eager firefighter.

We see the prevalence and impact of professional mentoring in business and industry. But mentoring on a more personal level has the unique ability to strengthen a community’s social fabric. A one-on-one relationship, built on information sharing, fosters a sense of trust and mutual respect.

This trust nurtures collaboration and creates a shared sense of purpose. In this way, mentors can bridge generational, cultural, or socioeconomic gaps while promoting inclusivity and understanding.

The best part of mentoring? It’s not a one-way street of benefits. Mentees (which is tough to say with a straight face), can also have a profound influence on their mentors.

This is all top of mind for me because, thanks to the city of Pensacola’s partnership with Big Brother Big Sisters, I was lucky enough to be matched with a Little in the Beyond School Walls program.

The aim is to help students successfully graduate and take their next step into the workforce, school, or military. After almost two years together, my Little graduates this week. As she takes her next steps, our time spent together brightened the colors of my perspective.

Her self-determined dedication to excel, coupled with her enthusiasm and curiosity about the world around her make me hopeful for all of us. Also, while I respect (but don’t understand) her status as a Swifty, I’ll forever be grateful to her for introducing me to Harry Styles’ music.

Mentoring’s goal is creating success, which provides a win-win for both sides of the relationship coin. Yoda and Han Solo both felt a sense of pride and accomplishment as their young Padawan found his way. The big thing to remember: mentoring doesn’t require Jedi-like skills. Mix your good listening skills with patience and come with a generous willingness to be yourself.

You can mentor. Our community needs your brain, your life experience, and mostly your kindness. Look for an opportunity that suits you.

And if question your ability to have a positive impact on someone’s life, take a page from Taylor Swift’s book and shake, shake, shake it off.

Fire Chief Ginny Cranor

Pensacola Fire Department

*Note from Local Pulse Editor: Fire Chief Ginny Cranor is a part of our Community Voices series. Community Voices is a group of Pensacola dwellers that are making a difference in our city by sharing best practices, experiences, their perspective on impactful subjects, and contributing expertise that leads to movement forward for a stronger community.