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.
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.