Crenshaw and Kelly Fair agree on multiple points. Like Crenshaw, Fair believes more research, media, and communities need to focus on young, African-American women. From sex trafficking to school discipline, our girls are in danger in their very communities. As local community leaders, you are able to make changes, to be a voice for this invisible fight! We want to empower you to stand up for your community, for your young, black girls. For all of those who already have, thank you for your courage, for all of those who have yet to do so, thank you for reading our message. Continue reading
I’m motivated to continue my work in mentoring, because I’m a successful byproduct of strong Chicago-based youth mentoring and job readiness initiatives. So, I know personally that mentoring works, which is why am excited every time a new company jumps on board to providing career-related mentoring to our girls. Join me and the Trust on May 12th to commit to making our region better. Continue reading
For the month of April, we have shared with you our thoughts on philanthropy. We are here to tell you that we are not the only ones who think you make wonderful philanthropists! According to The Chicago Community Trust:
Every day people are making “good” happen. We call them philanthropists. Commitments–both great and small–made every day to strengthen communities and improve the lives of others are the essence of philanthropy.
The Chicago Community Trust is dedicated to the metropolitan Chicagoland area. They want to ensure that all members of the community are able to thrive. By encouraging philanthropy and civic leadership, Chicago Community Trust is ensuring that local problems are being tackled with local solutions.
Join Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program on May 12, 2015 for an “On The Table” dinner conversation focused on exploring the other side of the crisis faced by African-American girls, and discussing how everyday citizens can get involved to help girls to communicate effectively, build confidence, and become prepared for future workplace careers. Dinner will be provided during this interactive discussion.
To learn more about the event and to RSVP, send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.polishedpebbles.com.
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.
For the last four years, with Polished Pebbles, I have been empowering girls throughout Chicagoland to find their voices by equipping them with effective communications skills, providing access to proper mentors, and exposure to powerful life experiences. It has been an awesome experience to reach over 500 girls with the assistance of numerous organizations, businesses, and hundreds of volunteers and supporters. But, perhaps what’s been most amazing for me is the opportunity I’ve had to grow right along with the girls, personally and professionally. I often share with the girls that a big of part of my drive in starting Polished Pebbles lies in the truth that I too was a shy girl, and it took me until I got to college to really unleash my leadership abilities, and build my confidence.
I had a personal mentor of mine who always impressed upon me that “we’re always teaching, and we’re always learning.” I’ve had lots of growing pains building Polished Pebbles, and finding my voice in this new venture has been a journey. But, I’ve come to realize now that we’ve learned a lot in creating Polished Pebbles and growing it from a single site group mentoring program with less than 20 mentors and only 2 girls at our first monthly meeting, to a program that has served 500 girls through 15 program sites serving University of Chicago Charter Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and the Chicago Housing Authority. I feel impelled and that it’s my responsibility to our communities to share some of what we’ve grown through during this Polished Pebbles experience; this will include strategies that we’ve learned, and knowledge gained from staff, volunteers, partners, and of course our girls.
Every Thursday, you can expect a weekly update to this blog, “Kelly Fair The Mentor” including:
- Encouragement and support in realizing the role each of us can play in impacting our youth
- Tips and strategies on strengthening mentoring efforts in your communities
- Insight from our rock-star staff, volunteers, and families, and of course our girls!
As I continue to grow and develop along with Polished Pebbles, I look forward to sharing the journey with you.
A couple of weeks ago at our Polished Pebbles’ Open House for interested mentors and volunteers, over 50 women made the commitment to challenge themselves to declare at least one thing that they have to offer the Polished Pebbles girls, community, and organization. They participated in a 7-day social media challenge were they included things like:
Quite often far too many of us feel ill equipped to tackle the issues in our community, but the reality is that we have everything that we need for healing and empowerment! So, join us and declare at least one thing today that you have to offer the Polished Pebbles community, or the girls or youth in your community! Is it your commitment, positive attitude, marketing skills, fundraising skills? What do you have to offer? Please let us know below in the comments section.
If you’re interested in volunteering or mentoring with Polished Pebbles in Chicago, email us at email@example.com. Our next mentor/volunteer orientation will be September 28th from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. at the Chicago Urban League (4510 S. Michigan Avenue) or visit the Polished Pebbles page for more information http://www.polishedpebbles.com.
“I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget. I was here…”
Sometimes I like to start my session playing the melodic Beyonce tune “I Was Here,” not because Bey knows how to get the party started, but to remind the girls that our legacies begin here and now in Polished Pebbles discovering, defining, and delivering our voices to the rest of the world.
When I tell people I work for a girls mentoring program they often think I’m some type of crusader equipped with nail polish, friendship bracelets, unlimited relationship advice, and a pink cape. That idea could not be further from the truth. I‘m actually just a south side girl with tons of flaws, and not nearly enough “right” answers, icebreakers, or time to achieve every objective. I’m sure if you ask any of my “pebbles,” colleagues, or interns they will all have something different to say because everyone has a different perspective as to what Polished Pebbles is all about.
To understand the Polished Pebbles organization you must first understand the name. The name Polished Pebbles is inspired by a quote from Susan Taylor, Editor Emeritus of Essence Magazine’s last book, All About Love, were she talks about the strength of relationships propelling our personal growth. The quote is, “Like pebbles in a bag we all polish one another.” And polishing one another is truly what we do. When I say polish, I don’t mean adorning the girls with pencil skirts and pearls, but empowering them to be bold and fearless change agents. Changing what and how they communicate to the world first and taking what they have learned back to their classmates, families, and communities. School administrators and parents are some of the first to notice the changes in our students so developing and maintaining substantial relationships with school administrators and parents has been crucial to ensuring the success of our girls. Also, if we are going to be honest, I’m on a journey of self-discovery alongside the girls. Everyday that I work with the girls I’m teaching them to discover their voices, and I am undoubtedly fine-tuning my own voice and better understanding my strengths and weaknesses. Trust me, there is nothing like a 7th grader helping you take a self- assessment to understand what you are not good at.
I met Kelly a year ago and decided to join the Polished Pebbles team. I immediately knew I was joining a “different” type of team. While sitting in Kelly’s very pink office she began pouring into me the confidence to share my personal story with my students. The reality is that no one wants to be vulnerable, not even with a 7 year old. However, being an authentic leader required me to share my own insecurities, failures, and triumphs. Those hours with Kelly helped me to understand that asserting my personal power meant telling my story. Kelly and I have had more Iyanla moments that I can count and as a result, I was polished professionally and given opportunities to hone my grant writing and partnership development skills when others had not given me that opportunity. These experiences were not just my experiences but it is the Polished Pebbles experience. It wasn’t just about polishing the girls but about each and every one of us, students, staff, and volunteers included, leaving this experience better than when we came.
Chanta Williams graduated cum laude from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Chanta serves as a Workshop Facilitator and Development Associate for the Polished Pebbles Girl’s Mentoring Program. She honed many of her development talents serving as a Junior Associate Intern at Lisa M. Dietlin and Associates non-profit consulting firm. Serving as an independent educational consultant she has assisted designing successful one on one peer-mentoring program for the Chicago Scholars, designing and implementing curriculum for various Chicago area college access and youth programs.