by Laura Lehman Amstutz
LEAP365 (Learning, Exploring and Participating) completed its first mentoring cycle with a mentor/mentee retreat held May 16-18 at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Ten high school students and 10 adults were involved in the mentoring program. Participants praised the program for the way it helped them learn and grow as individuals.
“Through this program I have grown spiritually, received guidance and gained a lifelong mentor and friend,” said Paige Quill of Philadelphia,
Pa. The mentoring pairs met twice a month for six months to talk about issues young people are facing.
“I think that we mentees are fortunate to have mentors in our lives, because where I’m from there is a lack of role models or positives figures
to look up to,” said Olin Johnson from Philadelphia.
“My mentor, Ms. Joanne, gives me advice that works. She challenges me to things that I wouldn’t normally do and she gives me things like books and
other things to help me,” said Shannon Hurley, also from Philadelphia. “The thing I love the most about Ms. Joanne is that she truly cares for
me, and I can see it show through the things she does and sacrifices for me.”
The youth spent time last summer at EMS studying with professors and then embarked on a 10-day cross-cultural trip to either Guatemala, Mexico, or
Trinidad. Upon returning home,they began meeting with their mentors to process the experience and to continue the learning process.
“The trip to Trinidad and the mentoring really helped me,” said Lauren Snowden from Chesapeake, Va. “I have become a stronger person without
being so aggressive, and I’m also more involved in school and other activities.”
The mentors helped the youth think about their future, understand themselves and grow spiritually.
“Getting to understand myself through my mentor Tasha is a great help,” said Bianca Nelson from Upper Darby, Pa. “Just knowing that ten years ago
she had a snappy attitude like mine and seeing how far she’s come with the shaping of Christ to help her.”
“The Bible is not just the Bible anymore, it is my companion,” she continued.
“Being mentored has shown me the hope of living for Christ, something I already knew, but was having a hard time accepting,” said Greg McFarland
of Philadelphia. “My mentor Minister Ruff came in my life at a crucial time and gave me new hope.”
The mentors said that they felt honored to be asked to share in the lives of these young people.
“Every aspect of mentoring Lauren has been delightful, from the preparation for our meetings, to the dialogue to the resulting bond that has
formed between us,” said Nicole Francisco from Hampton, Va. “I believe I have benefited from this program just as much as Lauren has.”
“I enjoyed being a part of Olin’s progress as he charts his course for the future,” said Wesley Proctor from Philadelphia.
LEAP365 is a year-long mentoring program for high school juniors and seniors. For more information, call Director Marvin Lorenzana at 540-432-4697.