By Stefanie Lerner, Class 23
Director of Sales & Marketing at Encore Creative
I began the Scottsdale Leadership program with what I thought was an open mind. I knew I wanted to get deeper involved in my community and thought Scottsdale Leadership would offer exposure to a host of opportunities, that it did. I assumed with my professional background and areas of interest I would connect to the arts community or something of that nature. Little did I know that my heart would be grabbed by Phoenix Youth at Risk’s New Pathway’s mentoring program for freshmen at Scottsdale’s Coronado High School.
Fast forward to me signing up, being selected as a mentor, and being paired with Cheyenne for our 10 month journey. I know that this program, and my involvement in it, is helping to change the trajectory of a young person’s life. When I met Cheyenne (14 years old) she was prone to gang involvement, drug/alcohol use and self abuse as ways of dealing with life.
After 10 months in this program and with its amazing self empowerment curriculum and community building, Cheyenne found she has a talent and love of writing poetry. Together we found some poetry open mic readings at Mama Java’s Coffee House and I brought her to hear other poets read. She got up on that very first day (poems in her pocket… I didn’t even know about) and read publicly. She’s since been “publishing” her poetry on Facebook and even signed up to read her poetry at the New Pathways Talent Show….and was awarded …Best Overall Talent. There is no greater pride than seeing her proud of herself, proud of her accomplishments, and making positive choices.
Phoenix Youth at Risk is always looking for new mentors and they run several programs. While I’m just one person, volunteering a small amount of time, I know I am doing something extremely important. I am making a difference.
For more information on Phoenix Youth at Risk please visit: http://www.phoenixyouthatrisk.org/