Imagine having dreams becoming a veterinarian your entire life, yearning to help animals and wanting to make a difference. Pam is only 16 years old, when her dreams are shattered, her father thrown into jail and her mother forced to work the street corners to put food on the table.
Stories like this happen to blacks, whites, Hispanics, Jews, Catholics, Muslims and every ethnic and religious group in the world.
This is why I have chosen to join Women of Tomorrow, a non-profit group whose mission is to help young girls at high risk have mentors to learn from and who can guide them in the right direction.
I know what you’re thinking, OK Leslie, you already have 3 kids, run a company, have 2 ailing parents who you take care of, and are already extremely active in raising money for different agencies.
Why spread myself so thin? Actually, I’m doing this for ME. Having had some difficult challenges in my own youth, I feel that I truly can help many girls who need a good role model to guide them.
This is different from anything I’ve ever done. I’m not raising money, I’m providing my past childhood experience and my current success as an entrepreneur and business owner to teach young girls important lessons.
I recently took 4 hours out of my busy work day to be trained as a mentor for Women of Tomorrow (WOT). WOT was founded in 1997 by Television Journalist & Author Jennifer Valoppi and Telemundo President Don Browne as a way to help young at-risk young women live up to their full potential. Women of Tomorrow is about women helping women and its program model is unique and effective -- highly accomplished professional women meet with small groups of at-risk girls in public high schools once a month to discuss ways to overcome obstacles and to provide skills for success. In its first year of operation, Women of Tomorrow commissioned an independent psychologist to conduct pre and post self-esteem tests of the girls participating and a statistically significant increase in the self-esteem of the WOT Mentees was found.
As of today, over 2,000 girls have been mentored, 98 schools participate, and $2.3 million dollars have been awarded as scholarships to help these young high risk girls have a chance to reach their dreams.
Me, well I can’t wait to begin. I have a whole line of topics which we will be discussing monthly at the high school, as well as a list of fascinating and accomplished guest speakers which will hopefully encourage and motivate these girls to stay on track, and most importantly, learn that they should never give up and say they can’t do it. Just like the little blue engine who always told himself “I think I can, I think I can” – these girls must remember this childhood lesson applies even as a teenager/young adult.del.icio.us | digg it! | reddit! | Google!