Every day at work, Iman Graham sees first hand how tough life can be as a homeless child. That’s why she recently volunteered to join our mentoring program, and she hopes you’ll consider volunteering, too.
As an Assessment Specialist on our staff, Iman’s job is to interview homeless families at DC’s emergency shelters, screening them for placement into an appropriate long-term housing solution. She works on the front lines of homeless services, listening compassionately as families describe the struggles that drove them to homelessness. Whatever the circumstances, by the time these families end up in emergency shelter, they are in crisis.
“I see how hard that can be on children,” Iman reports. “I see so many single-parent families: kids with no dad, some with no mom. These kids experiencing instability need someone they can trust. Someone to talk to outside their family. Not everyone has a support system.”
Our mentors become part of that support system. They meet with their mentee twice a month for educational outings, homework help or fun excursions, based on the mentee’s needs and interests. Mentors commit to the match for at least a year – enough time to build trust and also have some fun.
Iman has only just started meeting with her mentee, a 12-year-old girl named Dejounna. On their first outing, they headed to National Harbor.
“We talked about school. Family. Her goals,” Iman says. “I told her, ‘You’re going to learn from me, and I’m going to learn from you.’” They’re already thinking about their next outings, which might include trips to museums and basketball games. “Dejounna is into giving back, so we’re looking for a soup kitchen where we can volunteer together.”
Right now, 6 more children are ready and waiting for a mentor, and our case managers expect many more of our youth to ask for mentors this year. If Iman and Dejounna inspire you to give back, consider joining the Community of Hope mentor program and being a positive role model in the life of a homeless child. Learn more here.
And, January is National Mentoring Month! Thank you to our committed mentors for the example you have already set for your mentee. We are proud of you!