The Couple That Volunteers Together………………

Papa n Mama Purvis

A Couple Who Shares Their Love Through Volunteering

Erika Jones-Purvis is an event planner and founder of A Social Life, a party planning and event design company specializing in intimate gatherings. Keith Purvis is a writer, director, and producer of film, as well as founder of The Junction Group LLC., a new media production company.

Together, this power couple spend their time giving back to the community by supporting youth mentoring groups, such as Polished Pebbles. Erika has been a volunteer mentor with our girls in Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program since our beginning days.  She specializes in teaching our girls about social etiquette, including basic table settings, eating out a new restaurants, and how to create a wonderful social ambiance in your own home and community.   Here’s some pictures of Erika at work.

erika instructingtable settings


Keith has volunteered with us during our Polished Pebbles Men’s Month festivities serving on open forum panels with our girls giving them opportunities to interact with positive male role models.  And, he’s also assisted with producing some of our videos.  Such as this one,


Keith just directed and produced a documentary on unfair housing practices in Chicago and Martin Luther King participation in the Chicago Freedom Movement for the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center on the Westside of Chicago.  Currently, Keith is in preproduction for his first feature film Travis & Tabitha. When circumstances turn two lost people into roommates, their makeshift relationship forces them to make profound decisions on what they want to do with the rest of their life.  The film is being made in Chicago starting in May of 2014. Like the Travis and Tabitha page ( for updates. 

I just wanted to honor Keith and Erika’s dedication to each other, and volunteering by using their skills sets to support youth mentoring! As we always want to emphasize there’s so many ways each of us can support the growth of youth mentoring efforts! For more information about Erika & Keith’s company’s click on their logos below:

social life llcJunction group films llc

My Webinar Shows How to Start A Mentoring Program From Scratch!

Starting a Mentoring Program From Scratch


Kelly Fair
Urban Youth Mentoring Practitioner
Interested In Creating Your Own Youth Mentoring Program?
Learn How With Her Live Webinar
April 19, 2014
Experience Creating Signature Career Mentoring Initiatives With National Brands!
Register & Learn To:
Develop your passion into a unique, marketable & sustainable program.
Distinguish your program mission and objectives & present them to critical stake holders.
Form partnerships to make your program a reality.

Get your individual questions answered and more!



We Need More Conductors!: Mentoring Black Girls Into Success!

“Harriet Tubman, never lost a passenger, but on our own watch it’s seems like we are losing many.. black girls”


Check out my acceptance speech from a couple of weeks ago when I was awarded the Margaret Burroughs Trailblazer Award from the Women’s Board of The DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago.   I speak to the need for more mentoring support for black girls, and the need for increased awareness of the pressures of growing up as an African American girl in today’s inner cities! DePaul University Students Share Spring Break 2014 Tips!

depaulstudent collage

Click Here To See The Video:  Spring Break 2014

Sometimes mentoring is reaffirming the wisdom that young people already possess, and providing them with a voice to be heard!  In this week’s edition of “Stomping the Yard”, my column for mentoring undergraduate students, I visited students at DePaul University in my hometown Chicago.  Although, it seemed like winter would never end this year, and in some places it still feels like it hasn’t.  Spring is upon us, and many students have set their plans for Spring Break 2014.   These DePaul University students shared with us how they are planning to spend their Spring Break vacations, and their top recommendations for other college students.

Watch HERE and let us know how you plan to spend your Spring Break!

Spends His Downtime From Harpo Studios Supporting Youth Mentoring!

corey lewis

More Than One Way to Support Youth Mentoring

Over the years, as we’ve continued our work with Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, we’ve been fortunate to have our work supported by a network of 300+ volunteers within the Chicagoland area, and across the country.  So often, lots of people always say to me that they want to support our girls by mentoring at our Saturday and after school sites.  But, like all of us, there’s other priorities in life that can sometimes prevent us from making that level of commitment.

Last week I shared the story of one of our volunteers, Danielle Sackie Mensah,  who lives in New York and decided to contribute to our work with Polished Pebbles, even though she couldn’t come out and physically mentor our girls  at one of our sites.  Danielle designed our Women in The Workplace Timeline poster that we gave away to our girls to celebrate Women’s History Month.  This week, I was to share with you the profile of another young professional filmmaker, Corey Lewis.

The moment Cory S. Lewis stepped into his first television studio, he knew he was right at home. After his first “Take Your Child To Work Day” visit to the local CBS-affiliate in Chicago, he knew, at the age of 10, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Cory began his undergraduate education at Grand Valley State University, in Allendale, MI. While at GVSU he spent his time honing his skills by shooting, producing, and editing several independent productions, and plan the start of the university’s first student-run television station, GVBN.

Cory would return to Chicago in 2009 and earn his Bachelor’s Degree, with an emphasis in Film/Television Production, from Chicago State University in 2011. While earning his undergraduate degree, Cory worked on the set of several feature films, including Transformers: Dark of the Moon & After Effect. Cory would also worked as a freelance cinematographer, to help pay his way through college.

Corey currently works at Harpo Studios as an Associate Post-Production Coordinator, working on shows like “Oprah’s Next Chapter”, “Oprah’s Lifeclass”, “Iyanla: Fix My Life”, the Emmy-Award winning “Super Soul Sunday”, and “Wanda Sykes Presents: Herlarious.”

How Corey Supports Our Girls in Polished Pebbles

About 4 years ago in the early days of Polished Pebbles I wanted to do a promo video for the organization.  I asked around with friends about finding a good videographer, and they referred me to Corey.  You can see the video he produced for us back then HERE ,or view it below.  And, Corey’s been supporting our work ever since then by helping us get the message out about the great girls, schools, and communities we serve through video.  Just through donating small amounts of his time, and his tremendous talent and guidance, he’s made a huge impact on our program, and our ability to properly market our work.  What talents, skills, and gifts do you have that you can share with a youth mentoring program in your community?  Think about it, and get going with sharing it the community of youth near you!

PP Promo Video Cover Pic

Our youth deserve our time and talents!  Let’s keep sharing!



More Than One Way to Support Youth Mentoring

danielle sackie mensah

Danilelle Sackie Mensah: Architect, designer extraordinaire, and Polished Pebbles volunteer

Over the years, as we’ve continued our work with Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, we’ve been fortunate to have our work supported by a network of 300+ volunteers within the Chicagoland area, and across the country.  So often lots of people always say to me that they want to support our girls by mentoring at our Saturday and after school sites.  But, like all of us, there’s other priorities in life that can sometimes prevent us from making that level of commitment.  However, I wanted to share a story of one of our volunteers who decided to contribute to our work even though she couldn’t come out and physically mentor our girls  at one of our sites, but Danielle demonstrated that there’s always more than one way to support youth mentoring!

Meet Danielle Sackie-Mensah.  She’s a Florida native that has recently relocated to New York to pursue a career in Architecture and Urban Design.  After graduating with honors, obtaining both a Bachelor of Architecture from Florida A&M University and a Master of Architecture in Urban and Regional Design from the New York Institute of Technology,she has accepted a position as a Project Manager with a local PM firm.   Danielle’s ambition in life, as a designer and aspiring architect, is to practice architecture and urban design at various scales and ultimately becoming the Founder and CEO of her own design firm.   In her spare time, she works on freelance and personal projects that feed her creativity and satisfy her urge to design.  

Through a mutual friend, she’s followed our work with Polished Pebbles for quite some time, and asked if there was anything that she could do, using her design talent, to support our work.  I jumped on the opportunity and emphatically said yes.  Every March we celebrate Women’s History month in Polished Pebbles by holding a career panel with notable professional women throughout the community.  This year, we were fortunate to include on our panel Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL), and two Alderwomen, Pat Dowell & Leslie Hairston.  This year we also wanted to begin educating girls on the history of women in the workplace, and the strides that women have made to achieve more equality in the work environment.  We had discussed creating a timeline that girls could use as a tool to learn these important dates.  I thought about it, and pitched this to Danielle as a perfect project that she could work on in her spare time in NY, and have a tremendous impact on our girls here in Chicago. Danielle agreed, and we were blessed with this wonderful product below.   The timeline was well received and appreciated by both the girls and mentors, and can be used as a teaching tool throughout the year.  


When it comes to support youth through mentoring programs, I’m a strong believer in the phrase, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  So, if supporting youth is your aim make sure to find a program that you want to contribute to, and honestly share with them how much time you can commit to, and the full extent of skills and talents that you have to offer.  In challenging times, there’s always a need for more resources, talent, and skills to make changing lives through mentoring a reality.

Celebrating Men!: President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative


As we close out “Men’s Month” for my girls mentoring program, Polished Pebbles, in Chicago, we thought it be nice to share an article about President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s  Keeper,” an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, He announced the launched of the initiative last week in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014. To read the article click HERE.


To view some pictures from our non-traditional Daddy Daughter Dance, with our mentoring community here in Chicago, click HERE.  Interested in organizing a similar initiative in your community?  Email me at

Now that it’s March, and Women’s History Month, we are holding a Career Panel here in Chicago this Saturday, March 8th at 10 a.m. at the Chicago Urban League.  Panelists will include Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Alderwoman Pat Dowell, Alderwoman Leslie Hairston, Judge Sharon Oden, VP/General Manager Bloomingdale’s Carolyn Edwards.  Email us at if you’d like to join us.

we can do it kelly rowland

My Column for College Students: Networking For The Game Changing Internship!

jet logoStudent-talking-to-professor

College Students!  Hang out with me on “The Yard!”  I’m extending my mentoring base to include undergraduate college students! My new bi-weekly column, “The Yard”, is on and aims to help undergraduates excel in their studies and social lives. Spread the word & check out my article here! 

Today I’m sharing with you how Rick Ross, Wacka Flocka, and Jay-Z all are crucial to your successful education yes, I’m serious! LOL!


Stephen Powell of Mentoring USA: This Month’s “Social Service Samurai”

stephen powell samaurai pic

In Chicago, during the month of February, the mentoring group I founded, Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program  we celebrate “Men’s Month.”  We started our men’s month initiative 4 years ago, because too many of our girls do not have positive male role models in their daily lives, and we wanted to provide ways for girls to interact with positive men in their communities.  To that end, our girls participate in open forums with men within our network of volunteers to learn about their personal, professional, and childhood experiences.  And, we host a non-traditional Daddy Daughter Dance where every girl, regardless if her dad is in her life or not, she’s represented and supported by a “volunteer dad” for that day.  (Click here for more pictures).

Officer giving out roses

So, as we celebrate the powerful men who work to support our youth this month, we’d like to highlight Stephen Powell the Executive Director of Mentoring USA in New York as one of our Social Service Samurai. Stephen was actually one of the first participants in our Daddy Daughter Dance! Mentoring USA’s mission is to create positive and supportive mentor relationships for youth ages 7-21, through a structured site-based model, and has provided mentors for more than 5,000 children since its inception and serves youth nationally and internationally. Stephen has been doing awesome work across the country to increase the presence of youth mentoring work, and recruit more males to mentor.   Stephen has also been a tremendous support for my work with Polished Pebbles, and provided mentoring to me as a mentoring professional.

1) How did you get involved in mentoring?

Mentoring has always been in my DNA.  I lost my father at the age of 5, and was then raised by a single mother.  When I got into high school, I then engaged in informal mentoring relationship with my track coach.  After being a mentee, I feel like my commitment to mentoring our youth is a way that I’m giving back to those who gave to me. In my fraternity in college I led our mentoring service as director of community service. During summer of 1993, I had the opportunity to have all of my fraternity brothers to serve as volunteers, and as a result of that we created a partnership with Boys and Girls Club.  Later in my career, I started working at Mentoring USA in 2005, and I felt like God connected me to my life mission.  I currently serve as the Executive Director of Mentoring USA.

2) What does your work consist of as Executive Director at Mentoring USA?

Fundraising, national and local expansion, donor cultivation, program management, and working with corporate partners are many of my primary responsibilities.  At times, I’m requested to give many key-note addresses and inspiring messages across the country. In the last couple of years we’ve been able to expand in international markets. It’s been an exciting ride. We also have an Italian affiliate and we have an affiliate in Morocco that I assist in managing.  As we’re investing in our kids we should also be investing in them to be global competitors. They need to have as much international interaction, access, and opportunity as possible. This will help them in realizing the world is not as small as they think. Essentially as mentors or mentoring organizations we have to be the bridges and fill the gaps. The world they are coming into is very technology driven. Even within the context of mentoring programs, we are looking to develop more rigorous STEM activities and a focus on financial education, diversity, tolerance, healthy lifestyles, and self-esteem. While focus is always on relationship with mentor and mentee, we also make sure we focus on individuals.

K. Fair_S. Powell

Me with Stephen at National Cares Mentoring Harlan Rising Mentor Orientation

Polished Pebbles (PP) is one of the main reasons why we’ve been able to expand our program. I met Kelly in 2009 in Atlanta working with Susan Taylor in a small group. Shortly after Kelly started PP we were expanding our national relationship with Bloomingdale’s. Bloomingdale’s was starting a fashionable fundraiser. We did something with Polished Pebbles where they had their girls come into the stores and the executives fell in love with them. They wanted to mentor them. Two weeks later we co-trained the mentors, and that’s what really caused our national expansion with Bloomingdale’s. It’s all what happened with Polished Pebbles.

3) What do you like best about working with Mentoring USA?

On any given day you can come in here with your tank empty, but you really never leave with your tank empty. There’s always a form of inspiration. Essentially in order to do this work effectively you have to know when to jump into mentee role and when to play mentor role.

4) Describe your thoughts on the role of male mentors in our communities.

There’s simply not enough. And there are seen and unseen barriers for why we don’t have mentors. When I talk about the corporate mentoring piece, even with rigorous recruitment, it yields very little in the space around male mentors. Developed male mentoring initiative, “MEN-TOUR”, focused on male mentor recruitment. Men communicate differently and we also carry our luggage differently, in terms of past pain and not being able to let that pain go. We knew we needed to create a space where men could just be so they could be there for their families and community. There’s always a faith-based institution in these places, so the idea around training is that they understand that their job is not to convert people but to stand in the gap for those who are underserved or in the need of guidance. (Info on program here: I think this is a critical time now. The President is getting ready to launch “My Brother’s Keepers. It’s timely. Everyone of color is under assault all over the country. Right now I think we’re standing down. But we need to stand up and contribute to policy.  We need to change school culture and community culture.

5) In honor of Men’s Month–What would be your message to other males who are interested in mentoring?

Get in. We need you. There’s a space for you, and I feel like because everyone on this planet needs a mentor. We all have something to give, regardless of what we think. We don’t need permission to be great; we just need opportunity and access. Taking that step first is unlocking the greatness within, but you gotta take that step.

You can connect and follow Stephen and Mentoring USA on Twitter:  @mrmentorsteve@mentoringusa, and get more information about Mentoring USA at