DALLAS – The efforts to attract mentors to some school campuses across southern Dallas continues to gain momentum and national attention.
We have already seen hundreds of men stepping up to be role models to boys. Now, on this first day of Women’s History Month, school staffers are seeing as much interest from community members looking to guide young girls on a path to success.
At South Oak Cliff High School, a large group of students spends Thursday morning surrounded in a sea of sisterhood. "We all need a push to start something," said student Shamarria Stewart.
The push is the beginning of building special bonds between young women and potential mentors from the community.
"Right now, young women are at a pivotal point. They can either decide to choke amongst the weeds, or they can blossom with the flowers. And we're here to help them choose to bloom," Nikomo Logan of the Blossom Academy said.
More than 150 women from across Dallas are volunteering their time to as many girls on the campus. It is part of the school’s My Little Sisters’ Keeper program.
"We sometimes forget about our young ladies and their needs. We focus on the boys and their needs, which is really good. But our young girls need to be able to see professional young women. Share their stories with them, Reach back and give back to them," Kristina Dove of the Dallas City of Learning said.
The mentors are describing themselves as “Partners in Progress.” They are helping the teens identify goals and strategies for success.
"It helps us, you know, feel like we are something in life," Stewart said.
Some of the mentors are building bonds through sharing personal stories.
“At the age of 15, I had a baby. The odds were against me. Statistics said that I wouldn't be this, and I wouldn't be that. Today, I'm an entrepreneur. I came, today, to let any young lady that I came in contact with know that you can beat the odds," Shanneca Beck explained.
The sisterly conversations are opening up doors of trust.
"There's times when you can't talk to your parents, and it's better to talk to someone else you don't even know, and it helps a lot," Student Odlissa Santos said.
The inaugural mentoring event for girls came during a tragic time for South Oak Cliff High School students. Their classmate, NeQuacia Jacobs, would have attended the program. She was an innocent victim, tragically killed in an act of senseless gun violence a few days prior. The mentors honored the teen with a memorial during the program.
"If we all come together as a community, we can all help our young ladies take it to the next level," Jeanette Berry of Operation Community Care said.
The Partners in Progress plan to regroup for a follow-up with their little sisters in three weeks.
Mentor Yolonda Torrence of Off the Glass Squad says there is still a lot of work to do.
“We must do it by being consistent and staying transparent in these kids' lives,” Torrence added.