“My mentor took me to the movies!” exclaimed Kayla.
“Mine took me to a yoga class,” shouted Moena, “and then out to ice cream!”
In the Watts household, conversations like these are normal. Why? Because all three daughters – Niaja, Kayla and Moena – have mentors from the Community of Hope Mentoring Program! In true sister style, they always compare their outings and rate the level of fun.
The family first got connected to Community of Hope five years ago when they could no longer stay at a relative’s place.
They ended up in a transitional living home before joining our Permanent Supportive Housing program. For the past five years, they have been living in a comfortable three-bedroom apartment, in Southeast DC.
So, when Jennifer’s case manager first approached her about the mentoring program for the girls, she was all in. Mom was already benefitting from case management and employment services from us, and now, there was something for her girls. The question was “would the girls want to join?”
Given their excitement about the program now, the answer to that question’s pretty clear.
“I love my mentor because we talk and bond and it’s easy,” said Kayla. “She’s motherly.”
“My mentor teaches me things about school, life and behavior,” said Moena. “And we have so much fun!”
It’s been more than a year of fun and bonding for both Niaja and Kayla. Moena just recently got matched when she turned eight, so her fun adventures are just starting, but nothing short of exciting. Among the three of them, they’ve been to the movies, mall, library, yoga, ice skating, and roller skating. Most recently, they went to see ICE! at the National Harbor as part of a Community of Hope sponsored mentor-mentee outing.
“What I like most about the mentoring program is that I get to see more parts of DC and learn about the different things I can do,” said Kayla.
Their mom echoes the positive effects of the mentor program too.
“As a single, working mom, it’s hard to give each child the individualized attention they deserve, especially with their different personalities and ages. Things like their homework, school projects and taking them out for one-on-one time – that’s what the mentor helps them with.”
Her goals for her children are for them to do well in school and go to college. According to a national report called “The Mentoring Effect”, children with mentors are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college and more than twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or sports team.
With our mentoring program, it looks like the girls are on track toward their and their mom’s goals. Jennifer said she has seen an improvement in all three of their behaviors, academics and social skills. “I see an all-around improvement.”
So what do the girls want to be when they grow up? Kayla shouted out “spy!” (That’s because she and her mom watch detective movies together occasionally – it’s both their favorites).
As for Moena? This was an easy question for her. At eight years old, she confidently said:
“I want to be a mentor!”
January is National Mentoring Month. We want to wish our mentors and mentees a happy month of celebrating and a fun-filled year of outings! As with Moena, it takes a mentor to inspire one. Learn how to get involved here.