It Takes Time to Make an Impact
During half-time at the Grizzlies versus Houston Rockets basketball game on April 6, 2010, the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation honored the African-American Network at FedEx for the successful mentoring program they initiated through the Memphis Cares program. Memphis Cares is an affiliate of the National Cares Mentoring Movement founded in 2006 by Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief and publications director at Essence magazine. Expanding youth mentoring in Memphis has been a major focus of the Grizzlies Foundation since its inception in 2004.
The National Cares Mentoring Movement encourages able adults to mentor at-risk youth via a trusted mentoring organization. Deborah McBride, Senior Strategic Sales Specialist, FedEx Services, describes why she volunteered to become a mentor and the impact her efforts have had on a certain Memphis City Schools student.
In August 2008, I attended a Lunch and Learn session sponsored by the African American Network at FedEx. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis City Schools. Dr. Cash talked about the importance of mentoring and the positive impact it can have on students, the school system and ultimately, the community. That day, I decided that this was a great opportunity to give back, so I became a mentor and, as they say, “the rest is history”.
I began mentoring Sara, an eighth grade student at my alma mater, South Side High School. While Sara made good grades, her conduct in a couple of classes had earned some “N’s”. I decided to help Sara by meeting personally with each of her teachers to discuss what they thought I could do to help her change her behavior into a positive learning experience. Following those meetings, Sara and I sat down together to talk about the importance of not being disruptive in class, suggesting that she channel her energy and become the teacher’s helper. Sara acted on my suggestion and raised her conduct grade from an “N” to an “E” in both classes.
At the end of the 2009 school year, Sara was promoted to the ninth grade and was scheduled to transfer to Hamilton High School. I was given the option to stay at South Side or continue with Sara at Hamilton High. My choice was clear. I simply could not end my commitment to her and so will remain as Sara’s mentor through to graduation from high school.
While we have had a few challenges this school term, she is doing well and her conduct is great. She is currently the teacher’s helper in her Physical Science class. When Sara tells me she can’t do something, my response to her is, in the words of President Barack Obama, “YES YOU CAN”!
PHOTO From left to right: Jenny Koltnow, Grizzlies Foundation executive director; Greg Campbell, Grizzlies president of business operations; Chris Wallace, General Manager; Willie Brooks, Chair of the AAN; Marlon Sanders, Corporate Culture and Awareness (CCA) Liaison to AAN; Cheryl Floyd, Co-chair of the African American Network; and Ellen Crutcher Co-chair of the African American Network.