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LEAP365 completes first successful mentoring cycle

by Laura Lehman Amstutz

HARRISONBURG, Va. —LEAP365 (Learning, Exploring and Participating) completed its first mentoring cycle with a mentor/mentee retreat held May 16-18 at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

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.”

Paige Quill and Erika Broadnax
Tyler Henry and her mentor Hilda Tisdale became very close during the mentoring process. Henry said that the guidance she received helped her grow spiritually.

“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 positive 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 reflect on the experience and to continue the learning process.

Addition of mentoring aids continued growth

“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.

Shannon Hurley
Shannon Hurley (pictured) and the rest of the youth were annointed at a worship service during the retreat

“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.”

Mentors also gain insight from program

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 enjoy 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, visit www.leap.emu.edu or call Director Marvin Lorenzana at 540-432-4697.

posted 05/28/08