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“My mentor is like a second father to me. He was always there for me when I would call at night crying because my grades were slipping. He always knew what to say to help me stay on track. I wanted to do what I could to make my parents proud, and I have.” – Theo, Graduate of the ARCHES mentoring program for youth on probation
Theo reflected on his year in our ARCHES mentoring program, which pairs youth on probation with mentors from the community who guide them through a journaling curriculum and support their civic, academic, and professional growth. Theo and his peers took to the podium at our recent graduation ceremony with pride and poise, a far cry from the way they approached their first mentoring sessions.
“If I had walked into a graduation ceremony like this a year ago, I would have turned around and walked right out. That’s who I was then. I wanted to work on that, and I did work on it. Participating in the mentoring program opened me up and helped me see an alternative way.
During one session, my mentor told me to look up Madam C.J. Walker and learn about her story. I like to draw, I like to do hair, I have a lot of creative pursuits, and when I researched Madam C.J. Walker, I learned from her that you can come from nothing, but still take your talent and do a lot with it. Madam C.J. Walker was the first child born into freedom. She actually used her freedom and her talents to make her own hair products and open up colleges. I remembered that because I’m good at drawing and I want to take my talents far in life.
When you get on probation, you might feel like your life is over. That’s how I felt. I felt like I really messed up my life, but I learned from this program that coming here could open more doors for me. This mistake was something for me to learn from. I’ve learned a lot from my mentors and I thank them for that.” – Dani, Graduate of the ARCHES mentoring program for youth on probation.
With the encouragement and support of her mentors, Dani is now pursuing her education through the Far Rockaway Teen Library GED Program and began an internship with Sheltering Arms. After graduating from our mentoring and journaling program, she enrolled in the Alumni Academy where she supports new mentees entering the program and continues to receive support as she pursues her goal of opening her own cosmetic business.
Theo is graduating from high school this year and has been pursued by Medgar Evers College, La Guardia College, Baruch College, and BMCC for his athletic and academic abilities. He has recently declared for BMCC.