Preston paves future with mentoring effort

Big Sister, Genessi De Los Santos and Little Sister, Alyssa Zavala....”Homework isn’t so hard when you have a Big Sister to help!”

“Thank Your Mentor Day,” January 22, is a special day for Preston High School students and girls from the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club of Throggs Neck, who are part of the Big Sisters/Little Sisters Mentoring Program. This day is part of National Mentoring Month, which focuses national attention on the need for mentors and the positive impact it has on young people’s lives. President Elect Barack Obama has called all to action stating: “Be the Change: Mentor a Child.”

Thirty-seven Preston High School students have responded to the need to be mentors for 30 young mentees from Kips Bay to help them achieve their full potential. The program began 10 years ago as a joint venture between Preston High School and the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership (TNCAP), a coalition dedicated towards creating a healthy environment for youth. The program is sustained through the collaborative efforts of TNCAP, Kipps Bay Boys and Girls Club, and The Sisters of Divine Compassion/Preston Center of Compassion.

Although this is a joint community effort, Preston Center of Compassion has primary responsibility for implementing the Big Sisters/Little Sisters Mentoring Program. Preston Center of Compassion is committed to serving the Throggs Neck Community and working with the young women of Preston High School who volunteer their service with these children and families in the community. Preston High School is a natural resource for mentors because of their diverse student population of college-bound young women who inspire and motivate middle school age girls. The goals of the program are to encourage self-esteem and empowerment of young women. The mentors and mentees meet each week at Preston for homework help and participation in cultural and creative arts activities. The key component is the development of relationships between the Preston “Big Sisters” and their Kips Bay “Little Sisters.” The program is designed to foster caring and lasting relationships and to have the teens act as role models. The Mentors and Mentees bond within an environment where everyone feels accepted and encouraged.

Under the guidance of Sr. Patricia Warner, Sr. Carol Wagner, Laura Nardi, and Cathy Mulvaney, these dedicated Preston High School sophomores and juniors are working towards improved academics, development of leadership skills and healthy behaviors among girls in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades from P.S. 72.

Although a central part of National Mentoring Month is volunteer recruitment, it is also a time to honor those individuals that have done a remarkable service as mentors. In celebration of their commitment to mentoring children from the Bronx community, the following 37 girls are being honored for their extraordinary service in the Preston Big Sisters Little Sisters Mentoring Program: juniors: Amanda Conti, Diana Jacyszyn, and Julia Mooney; sophomores: Sarah Archer Days, Jenna Bagcal, Nia Boles, Yehara Brito, Nataija Bush, Ann Byrne, Emi Cara, Karina Ciriaco, Genessi DeLos Santos, Stephanie Diaz, Amanda DiSerio, Stephanie Ebanks, Priscilla Fuentes, Stephanie Henry, Caresse Howell, Gina Klein, Maura Linehan, Luisa Makas, Harsha Maragh, Lisamarie Mercado, Chelsea Mikell, Chelsea Minuche, Yanirys Mota, Lauren Murphy, Stephanie Natelli, Evelyn Perez, Ashley Persaud, Amanda Phail, Swari Patel, Mitchelle Ramirez, Krista Rinaldi, Ariana Santiago, Akua Sekyere, and Shantal Taveras.

The Big Sisters/Little Sisters Mentoring Program is also honoring P.S. 72 guidance counselor, Melissa Beatty as well as, Latisha Smith and Rachel Bayron, from Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club for their outstanding efforts towards ensuring the success of the program. On February 10th there will be a formal ceremony held at Preston High School to pay tribute to these committed individuals.

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