Mentors of at-risk youth celebrated at luncheon

caines | 1/24/2013, 4:30 a.m.

[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="title"] There were a lot of thank yous going around at the Miami Shores Country Club on Jan. 17 for National Thank Your Mentor Day. Communities in Schools (CIS) Miami an organization that works to empower and motivate at-risk students to graduate by providing resources, such as mentoring, tutoring, life skills development and counseling held a luncheon to honor the mentors who have assisted CIS students. The mentors included various professionals from companies who spend four hours a month working with students either at the student's school or at the mentor's work place. When mentors offer their help, talent and resources the mentees eyes open up, they become more confident and start to believe that they can also be successful, according to LaTousha Daniels, CIS mentor coordinator. For business people to give up their time to meet the needs of at-risk children, we have to let them know that theyre appreciated, Daniels said. About 15 students from Miami Edison Senior High School, are mentored by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, including Greguer Odige, 18, a 12th grader, who said he enjoys spending time with the Coast Guard team. He said they show great concern about how he and the other mentees are doing in school and in life. If something bad happens to you, they are always there to help you, he said. Janice Blanc, 17, another 12th grader from Edison Senior High, said being mentored by members of the Coast Guard has helped her control her temper, bring up her grades, and meet new people. Blanc said that she is even considering signing up for the Coast Guard after college. Guitars Over Guns Organization (GOGO) a music-related non-profit that consists of musicians and singers who have partnered with CIS work with eight students from Edison Middle School and eight students from North Miami Middle School. Both Sherrine Mostin, a jazz voice professor at Miami-Dade College, and Michelle Forman, help students train their voices and grow as singers. Other GOGO members teach students how to use instruments or to rap. Several mentors from Florida Power and Light Company, who have recently partnered with CIS, were in attendance at the luncheon. They will have their first meeting with their group of twelve mentees on Jan. 23. As we take ownership of every dealing with electricity, we also want to take ownership of development of the kids in our local community, Clinton Powell, a FPL employee said. Elizabeth Mejia, the executive director of CIS Miami, gave a speech that focused on the importance of mentors. Whether you hear the thank you or not, whether those kids come back and say this is how you transformed my life, she said. I know in my heart, and I hope you know in your heart that everything that we do truly makes a difference. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com