A Tale of Two Girls From Two Communities

vibe role models

Can we allow reality TV stars be the example of how women seem to NEVER get along?

this or that mentors

Do we as women in the community take the responsibility of doing the work to demonstrate for girls what REAL women working together looks like?

Examples of Women Working Together:

 Which example will we choose to exhibit for our girls? 

I’d like to share the story of two girls who both participated in Second Saturday’s Program of Polished Pebbles, the mentoring program I founded in Chicago.  The Second Saturday’s program is monthly workshop that is free and open to girls throughout Chicagoland, but it also includes a network of girls who participate in Polished Pebbles’ after school programs through out the year, at different partnering schools and communities.  Two girls from two different communities in Chicago, Altgeld Gardens and Dearborn Homes, met each other for the first time at the Second Saturdays Program, and struck up a friendship.  Let’s say their names are “Tenisha” &” Mariah.” That friendship that started at monthly Polished Pebbles meetings turned into calling each other, sending text messages, and even working together at the same summer job.

As funding for education and youth initiatives seems to be frequently under fire in under-resourced communities, at the beginning of this school year, it looked as though our service to three of the communities of girls we worked with for two years would be cut.  This meant that we would no longer be able to support the girls in the two communities that both “Tenisha” and “Mariah” resided in.  Potentially losing the opportunity to work with these girls was devastating, because we didn’t want to jeopardize the relationship we had built with the girls of these communities.  Additionally, many of our girls are facing so many challenges in their daily lives, including maintaining trust with people because they’ve been let down so often.  We didn’t want Polished Pebbles to be yet another group of adults who let them down and broke their trust.

When the word got out to the women who volunteer and mentor with Polished Pebbles they put their heads and resources together. The were firm in ensuring we would be able to continue to work with these girls no matter the obstacles.  Now, you must know this is a large and very eclectic group of women from different professions, backgrounds, neighborhoods, walks of life, veteran mentors, and women volunteering for the very first time.  But, all differences were put aside when the best interest of our girls were involved.  They raised the money to cover the costs for the girls to participate in the upcoming bowling trip, and the funds to bus them to our Second Saturday program throughout the school year.

Because of the support of these women working together, we are able to maintain our relationships with the three communities of girls .  Because of these women working together, the girls didn’t have to again experience abandonment and a lack of love.  The support of these women working together enables Polished Pebbles mentees to maintain their relationships with girls from different communities throughout Chicagoland that they’ve established in the Polished Pebbles Network.  And, because of these powerful women working together, the friendship between our two girls from two different communities, “Tenisha” & “Mariah”, is solidified even further.  Now, they can continue to SEE each other monthly and learn together at the Polished Pebbles Second Saturdays program-the place where they initially met.

sisterhood ucw


As the Role Models and mentors in this group mentoring initiative, Polished Pebbles, or any mentoring program in any city for that matter, it is our duty to foster a culture of seamless relationships of WOMEN and GIRLS Working Together in unison and purpose.  From this story you can tell we’re doing just that.  But, the work isn’t done.  We have to constantly work to make sure that we are modeling what strong working relationships, friendships, and networks of women should look like, and that starts with how we plan and prepare for the work we do with our girls! Demonstrating positive examples of teamwork is definitely a “Cornerstone of Effective Mentoring.”  We can’t let the poor and misleading examples depicted in reality TV series be the only examples of how our girls see women, and women of color ,interact.  It’s a lot of work, but I’m encouraged.  What a wonderful journey we’re embarking upon.  I couldn’t be more excited to journey with a greater group of women!

Got my bags packed!



Want to get more tips and insight on mentoring urban youth and girls? Share and follow, http://www.kellyfairthementor.wordpress.com.  Want to join us with mentoring at Polished Pebbles?  Email us at info@polishedpebbles.

The Spirit of Giving

I recently accepted an invitation to appear on the web-based forum, “Speak To Truth with Carl West”. During the conversation, the Mr. West was surprised when I mentioned my current volunteer work with organizations outside of Polished Pebbles. Though there seems to be a huge struggle among organizations over resources and funding, I choose to operate under the belief that there is enough to go around. And, after so many people have donated their time, energy and knowledge in assisting with the development of Polished Pebbles, it is only right to continue to pay it forward and help others. It was with this in mind that this blog space was created.

I love my community unconditionally.  And I enjoy working with others who feel the same because sustainable community efforts require community ownership in order to make an impact.  Creating a framework in which community members are engaged takes a great deal of effort and commitment, but I’d rather share my knowledge with those interested in stepping into the youth mentoring arena, than for them to learn the hard way.

Continuous giving aids in the cultivation of  relationships and opportunities. So as I share my experiences, I look forward to hearing back from you.  Please feel free to ask questions, as this is an interactive medium. For extensive inquiries or consultation, please contact me at kfair@polishedpebbles.com.

The Motivation To Give Back

During the Polished Pebbles volunteer orientation, we asked our volunteers to share their motivation for volunteering. There were a wide range of responses, but one thing that held true was the lasting affect of a supportive mentor relationship. Through these relationships a few of our volunteers  witnessed the significance of building linkages within the community, as well as empowering  today’s youth.  As you view the video,  think about what skills and talents you have to offer your community and the lasting affect you could have as a mentor. Please feel free to leave a comment sharing what it is that motivates you to give back.

Join Me: Polished Pebbles Bowling Event

I would like to thank Chicago’s Young and Powerful’s for including me in their “Harold Washington Speaks” series. My presentation was called “It’s All About Love”  regarding the importance of love in solving the problems with youth violence in Chicago. There is a lack of love in our community and we need to address it, be that as mentors, politicians, philanthropists, or community members.


Next on the calendar, I would like to invite you to the annual Polished Pebbles bowling event for all ages.


When: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm
Where: Tinley Park Bowl
7601 W. 183rd St
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Cost per person: $10 includes ($4 for food only)
Shoe rental, 2 games of bowling, 1slice of pizza, and unlimited beverages
Drop-off/Pick-up Location
Chicago Urban League
4510 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653
Drop-of Time 9:30am
Pick-up Time: 12:30pm    

You are welcome to bring girls on the trip with you however, everyone must RSVP to info@polishedpebbles.com by Wednesday, October 9, 2013.

The Art Of Being A Great Mentor

IMG_9227Polished Pebbles recently held a volunteer orientation for those interested in working with us this year.  And I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in attendance for their energy and commitment. Volunteers and mentors are an important ingredient in the work we do. In order to successfully impact the lives of the girls in our programs, it’s necessary to enlist the talents and skills of a broad pool of individuals who are just as enthusiastic about our mission as we are.

Being a mentor doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a perfect person, but rather that you’re willing to guide and counsel with the compassion needed to make a difference.  According to a piece in the magazine Psychology Today, there are six things essentials to being a great mentor:

1. Be supportive.

2. Be an active listener.

3. Set realistic expectations that push them just enough outside of their comfort zone.

4. Have a genuine interest in the individual.

5. Encourage self-decision making.

6. Offer your perspective.

To read more on the six mentor essentials, please visit Psychology Today by clicking on the title of the magazine.