Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mentorships Transform the Lives of Baltimore City Girls

Almost everyone can point to someone in their lives who inspired them, counseled them, or helped them succeed, but children growing up in poverty or in high-crime areas may not always have a consistent figure in their lives to give them support and guidance. Sister’s Circle is transforming the lives of young girls in Baltimore City by pairing them with successful women who act as long-term mentors through high school and into college.

Sisters Circle offers after-school programs for 6th grade girls from Henderson Hopkins School. Twice a week, the girls gather to discuss a range of topics like individuality or peer pressure and enjoy career exploration, guest speakers, and community service projects.

Over time, Sisters Circle learns about each girl, meets with her family, and selects a mentor for her.  These relationships can truly transform the girls’ lives. When Jasmine Peterson’s mother passed away, she got into a fight and was expelled from school. Her mentor, Robyn Ringgold, and Sisters Circle provided guidance and help through this tumultuous time. Sisters Circle helped Jasmine get into The Catholic High School of Baltimore, and she began to thrive. 

Jasmine is now at Morgan State University. “I am vice president of the social work department, and I’m doing really well. Last semester ended with a 3.7 GPA.” 

“She has absolutely excelled at Morgan,” added Robyn. “I am so incredibly proud of her because we’ve come such a long way.”

Sisters Circle provides enrichment opportunities for the girls, such as pottery painting, cake decorating, and horseback riding as well as educational opportunities like career exploration and summer camps.

With help from Sisters Circle, the girls are able to get scholarships to summer programs and some have been able to get scholarships to private high schools. One young woman, currently a student at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, was able to spend two summers at Bucknell University’s Engineering Camp.

Being a mentor at Sisters Circle is unique in that the organization asks for a time commitment of about ten years. These long-term relationships are the key to successfully helping these girls through the difficult adolescent period and into college. Ringgold said, “It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, really, next to having children.”

“When you’re building a relationship with a young lady and you’re pouring into their lives, it’s really fun,” said Mentor Deidre Cassidy. “It’s not just a one-way thing.”

If you are unable to make a long-term commitment, there are many other ways in which you can help. Volunteers are also needed for the weekly after-school sessions at Henderson Hopkins as guest speakers, activity guides, and for career exploration.  This can be a one-time commitment or a more consistent one.

Sisters Circle also needs drivers to take the girls to different activities when their mentors are unable. For more information about the program and how to volunteer, visit sisterscircle.org.


video
Check out this video, detailing the engaging story of Deidre Cassidy and Jessica Bennett, another mentor and mentee from Sisters Circle.