I met Neiry nearly six years ago at the orientation for Take Stock In Children. She was there with her mom. I told them both right from the beginning, I plan to be with you all four years of high school, unless something takes me away from mentoring. They both looked at me and smiled.
Neiry was very shy, but over time, we built an incredible relationship and understanding of each other. We both looked forward to seeing each other every week during the school year, and over the summer we kept in touch via text. Neiry had a few challenges over the course of the four years of high school, but she found her way with the help and guidance of TSIC. We talked about ways to overcome what she was facing. We talked about goal setting and communication. By “we” I mean me and the team at Take Stock – we were all involved in Neiry’s success – it takes a village!
One day we met up during her senior year and she looked nervous. I asked her what was going on. She said, “I have been talking to an Army recruiter, and I think I am going to join the Army.” I was in shock, but I remained supportive throughout our conversation. For years we discussed her getting a college degree in engineering, so I was completely taken aback when she said she wanted to join the Army.
Next, she needed to tell her parents. We talked it through and how to communicate this to them. After she had the conversation with her mom and dad, her mom called me, and we talked it through. They both asked me to come to the recruiting office with them to meet with the recruiter, and I did. What an honor it was to be asked to go with them and ask questions on their behalf to make sure she was making the right decision.
We still message quite frequently, and I am so proud of her. She has been in the Army now for two years, is currently enrolled in college classes and is getting ready to be deployed to Poland for a period of time.
Mentoring with Take Stock in Children has been one of the greatest highlights of my life in volunteering and I feel so fortunate to be a part of such an incredible organization.
Mentoring is a key component of the success of every participant in the Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County Program, a grantee partner of Johnson Scholarship Foundation. Each year more than 350 mentors participate in the program. If you would like to contribute as a mentor, please contact Kimberly Briard at KBriard@takestockpalmbeach.org.