Our mentoring program provides a safe and nurturing place for kids who need a little extra help. For some, it is enticing them to engage in learning. For others, it is a social environment that provides them a structure that encourages behaviors that are not a priority elsewhere. The mentoring program is a unique combination of education combined with social support addressing unmet needs. The success stories are numerous. Perhaps the most powerful is the story of Graciela and Ramon.
Nine and seven years old respectively, they were referred to our mentoring program by a school principal for academic and behavioral concerns. Upon entering our program, we learned that these children had been through a very traumatic experience: they witnessed a shooting. The victim was their mother, who subsequently died.
Graciela and Ramon’s ability to focus in school was severely impacted by this unimaginable and tragic experience. They withdrew and simply ceased being able to grasp what they were being taught in class. Their teachers reported minimal participation and engagement with themselves and other students. Working closely with their grandparents, we enrolled them in the mentoring program where they received much needed structure, support and encouragement.
Over the last two years, working closely with her mentor, Graciela has been able to break through the trauma and has done well in school. She graduated from the mentoring program this year with honors and is going to high school. Ramon experienced similar outcomes although he changed schools and that precipitated some regression to behaviors such as withdrawal and lack of engagement at the end of his time with us.
Not all the stories are this dramatic but I wanted to share it with you because it has changed the way I see things at the Foundation. It is a reminder to me and hopefully to you that life is unpredictable. Sometimes we have to look beyond our own circumstances and see the need of others. So next time you are feeling grateful for your good fortune whatever that might be, remember that there are a bunch of kids that could use a little bit of your good luck and encouragement to see beyond today and focus on a better future.