I recommitted my time to helping young girls, and I’m so glad I did. In the past, I’ve guided young women and girls in my family. But I felt like the universe was giving me signs and telling me to add more mentoring to my plate.
There was the day two suburban mothers engaged me at length on an Amtrak train. They asked for my views and tips on connecting with teen girls without judging or alienating them. “You really should be a mentor,” one said emphatically at the conclusion of our conversation. “I wish you lived near me and my daughter,” the other said laughing. There was the day I was on the phone with a friend, who said any girl–including his own daughter–would be lucky to have me as a confidant. I even received an out of the blue text from a friend who looked at my IG and felt compelled to tell me that she thinks I’d make a great mentor. The universe kept showing me signs, then sent me an opportunity to volunteer at Career Day events in both Westchester and Brownsville. I was invited by my friend’s Sam and Richardine.
After participating in Career Days, I knew I wanted to do some more mentoring. So I applied with an organization. Now, I’m pleased to share that I have been quietly mentoring for the past six months via an organization that pairs us with immigrant and first generation girls. The goal is to help them navigate the challenges of life in the U.S. – and the added challenges of their home country’s culture (which can sometimes include out-of-date family mindsets about what girls can achieve). The experience has been fulfilling.
Recently during an online session, I realized my mentee was struggling to understand the suite of Google software. I suggested she ask her parent for permission to have me stop by on the weekend to train her.
“I don’t have a computer at home,” she said. “And the computers in the lab here at school aren’t great, and are almost always occupied.”
I was silent for a moment. I’d naively assumed she’d have regular computer access in school for a screenshare. My mind raced like those calculating memes, trying to think of what to do next.
I thought back to the time I was collecting supplies for a college-bound girl and how Dutchie Flair, Allison Veronica and others encouraged me to start a gofundme for her. I was able to collect donations, supplies—one of my followers donated a Mac laptop. I refocused, remembering she was waiting on me to respond. This girl, fresh from Guyana, living in New York, without proper access to a computer in 2018. “Ok. We’ll figure something out,” I said hurriedly. In the end, my mentee and I met up in Brooklyn. Using local business WiFi and my computer, I taught her how to use multiple Google tools. Her eyes lit up with each new discovery. By the end of the afternoon, she was able to explain the value of everything she’d learned that day. I was happy we made the special session work. The most surprising thing I learned this particular day was how much my mentee likes green smoothies—which she’d never tasted before—as well as how excited she was to know that the businesses we’d visited (and borrowed WIFi from) were African American or West Indian owned. So thank you Juices 4 Life, Jordan heads and everyone else who runs storefront, community-minded business like these. You constantly inspire me, and you’re helping me inspire young people.
Mentoring takes dedication. Sometimes I can’t step out because I have to prepare for a session. Sometimes I have to move meetings and personal appointments around. But I know it is all worth it. Because without the various people who took (and still take) time to provide a kind ear and guidance, I myself don’t know where I’d be. What a blessing to be able to give back.
Are you interested in learning about opportunities to mentor young people? Hit me up via my contact page and let’s see if I can help connect you to an opportunity to get started. Mentoring orgs always need people like you.