Detroit mentors celebrate National Mentoring Month
By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — In celebration of January being National Mentoring Month, Detroit area mentor turned social entrepreneur Rasheda Kamaria, held a Mentoring Month Mix and Mingle Jan. 25 at D:hive located in Detroit’s central business district.
The event was an opportunity for mentors and mentees to learn about different mentoring organizations, take part in mentoring exercises and games along with a presentation from mentor and author Paula Dirkes.
Kamaria, born and raised in Detroit, is the chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl, a mentoring program geared towards helping young women stay positive, focused and successful.
“I had been mentoring girls for nearly 10 years before I started Empowered Flower Girl. I wanted to do something to help inspire them as well as my nieces,” Kamaria told the Michigan Citizen. “I knew they were going through a lot of things with self-esteem and self-image. Some of them were being bullied in school but the other ones were just trying to fit in at school.”
Kamaria says she empathized with the situations some of her mentees experienced because she too had been down the same path.
“In middle school, I was teased and bullied relentlessly. I got picked on for the type of music I liked; I got called Oreo and white girl for speaking (formal) English,” says Kamaria, who added she was able to get over her challenges and issues with the help of caring adults.
Introduced in 2002, National Mentoring Month has been endorsed by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The origin of the yearly celebration is attributed to the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR), the Harvard School of Public Health, United Way Worldwide, National and Community Service and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency.
According to MENTOR’s website, their mission is to create a “public awareness platform to the mentoring field to recruit volunteers and drive engagement by demonstrating the powerful and positive impact of mentoring on young people and communities.”
Author and mentor Paula Dirkes says mentoring can be done by anyone who is willing to listen.
“The basics of mentoring are showing up when you say you will, listening to a child and caring for them on a consistent basis,” Dirkes said.
Her book, “Mentor Me!” was released in 2012 and became one of Amazon’s best sellers that same year. Dirkes has written three books; “Mentor Me!” is her most recent work.
“It’s meant to be a mentoring guide book to help adults make an informed decision about the best mentoring opportunity that fits their lifestyle. I try to inform people on all the different types of mentoring opportunities that exist,” Dirkes told the Michigan Citizen. “My book focuses on one-on-one, community-based youth mentoring. Adults forming a one-on-one relationship with a child really has amazing impact on both peoples’ lives.”
Spiritual Intuitive Coach for Positive S.I.S.T.E.R.S. Kimle Nailer says she enjoyed listening to Dirkes’ presentation and found the activities Dirkes presented to attendees very amusing.
Nailer founded Positive S.I.S.T.E.R.S. in 2008 and currently works out of Harper Woods High School mentoring students once a week through a program called Winning Futures. Within her organization, she works with women of all ages.
“There are many women who need support. Many have had negative experiences in their lives and they’ve not found their true purpose or ability to surmount these obstacles,” Nailer said. “Now as adults, many are mothers and wives and they’re having a lot of challenges in their lives just because they don’t know how to find themselves. I help them reconnect with who they are as a person despite the challenges they may have faced so they can be 100 percent authentic.”
Nailer says she and Kamaria are members in another mentoring organization and always looks to support. Kamaria believes her mentoring event was a success and loves to see dedication from mentors and mentees who braved the cold to attend.
“My hope is that people who were there were inspired to learn about organizations in Detroit they can support,” Kamaria said. “One young lady after the event walked up to me and said she had gotten more out of the event than she thought she would. She said she was touched and inspired. I was glad to hear that.”