Three Graduates in 2020

Class of 2020, we salute you!

The world is facing a crisis that will be written about in history books. Our lives have been disrupted, and a cloud of uncertainty looms over us all. While we are all in this together, I couldn’t help but think about my students at Mentoring Plus in Newport Kentucky, I miss them.

To the senior class of 2020, we want you to know we applaud you all for your hard work. Even in such unprecedented times, we are proud to announce that three M+ youth will be graduating from high school this year. It warms our hearts that we’ve have been able to work with these three youth, and track their growth over the years while they were successful in overcoming some big challenges. We enjoy the process of seeing students learn, mature, and blossom and reach this point of success.

Caitlin Thomes

Caitlin has been participating and working with Mentoring Plus for more than 2 years. Caitlin has diligently worked aside mentoring plus staff, case manager (Lisa E.), life coach (Barb), as well as with her grandparents to assist her in overcoming extreme barriers, develop skills and work toward independency of getting and keeping a job, and applying and moving into her first apartment. This youth has come a long way and continues to set new goals for herself. After much hard work, long hours of studying, doing homework and maintaining passing grades Caitlin will receive her high school diploma from Holy Cross Highschool this year, being part of the 2020 graduating class. Through hard work beside her case manager (Lisa E.), life coach (Barb) and the support of her grandparents, this youth has overcome obstacles. Caitlin is a youth who was successful starting with the tradition program at mentoring plus while making and reaching goals, getting a job, and earning passing grades to transitioning into our young adult program and learning how to get and maintain an apartment, budgeting and continuing in higher education plans. Best of luck to you Caitlin, we are proud of you, and hope you continue in all your success. As part of the 2020 class, your class will not only make history, but you will go down in Mentoring Plus history as someone who despite barriers and challenges have been able to rise to the top and continue in a journey of success. CONGRATULATIONS!

Damion Jones

Damion, better known as DJ, has been attending Mentoring Plus programming for 2 ½ years, and has overcome many challenges. DJ and his mother have expressed how being part of the Mentoring Plus program has provided DJ with encouragement and has lifted him up from being in low emotions states at times. His mother states that DJ has received the supports he needed, to help him blossom over the years. DJ will receive his high school diploma from Ryle High School for 2020. He is a bright young man who looks to have a promising future in front of him with hopes and ambitions to learn and work within the plumbing industry. Along with working with staff and his mentor (Nick) DJ has defiantly shown dedication, hard work and much resilience throughout his high school years. He was able to maintain and keep a job for over a year, while maintaining grades, continuing to engage in program at Mentoring Plus and developing a close friendship with his life coach. Through his senior year, DJ has worked toward this goal and several other goals both he and his case manager have set, through dedication, hard work and working closely with his mother (Kristy), case manager (Lisa E.), his life coach (Nick), and his school. He has been able to ride along with people whom currently work within the plumbing industry and has been able to ask questions directly to people working in this field to get some of the best answers and real-life experiences. DJ is excited about learning more about the industry and was set to continue on his ride along when the COVID 19 swept up all by surprise. While preparing to finish his high school career successfully DJ has continued to demonstrate hard work in maintaining his grades, and getting work completed for school. DJ has not allowed for challenges and barriers in front of him due to COVID 19 to stop him from achieving his goals. Best of luck to you DJ, we are proud of you, and hope you continue in all your success. As part of the 2020 class, your class will not only make history, but you will go down in Mentoring Plus history as being known to be a friend to all, demonstrating kindness towards others, demonstrating a kind and good heart, as well as someone who looks for the positive in others, all while facing your journey that lies ahead. CONGRATULATIONS!

Miranda Baldwin

Miranda Baldwin graduated from Highlands High School on May 23, 2020. She has applied to Gateway College and is preparing for her entrance testing. She would like to study nursing.

Program During Pandemic

The changing landscape brought on by CoronaVirus has been a challenge for so many people, businesses, and organizations. Mentoring Plus is no exception, and navigating this new landscape has taken monumental efforts from our team.

At its core, the program flourishes as a site-based, face-to-face mentoring program, and provides a loving, family-style atmosphere where youth and life coaches can come together. That doesn’t exactly make for an easy transition to this new online-only world we’re living in.

To make matters worse, the health scare and quarantine orders have created additional stresses for the youth and families that we serve. Some of our teens have suffered from a history of child abuse or neglect. Nationally, 68% of child abuse is committed by family members. So now there’s this situation where some young people are finding themselves “trapped” at home. No school, no part-time job, and no Mentoring Plus program to which they can escape. And this is on top of the more common stressors that most Americans are facing: Where will I get food and other groceries? How will I pay my rent or mortgage? When will things get back to normal?

The entire M+ team has stepped up to provide as much support as possible throughout this difficult season. From the board members to the volunteers and every staff member in between, the response has been significant. Program Director Robin Anderson quickly set up a private Facebook community for the youth, life coaches, and case managers, creating a fun and safe space where the M+ family could stay in touch with one another. The program’s family-style dinners were converted to delivery meals, packaged up and transported directly to the homes of our families. We added hygiene and other essentials to those deliveries, as well, turning our on-site resources into a mobile delivery service.

The case managers, in particular, have really stepped up. Staying in touch with the families has been more important than ever, so they’ve made extra phone calls, video calls, home visits, and anything else they can think of in order to keep the youth and their families healthy during this time. In many cases, they have been the frontline in protecting the M+ teens and serving M+ families. In uncertain times, it’s the case managers who have acted as beacons for the community, helping our neighbors to find some semblance of stability. All this, while also navigating their personal journeys through the crisis. They have families of their own. Their jobs, while not glamourous to begin with (Mentoring Plus, like many non-profit organizations, operates on a shoestring budget), have become more cumbersome while offering fewer benefits. And yet, they continue in the mission of empowering disadvantaged youth and their families.

Mentors are remaining active, with nearly 80% of them communicating with their teen multiple times a week. Board members have stepped up fundraising efforts to make up for canceled and postponed events. And our audience is staying engaged, with our social media activity reaching new heights over the past six weeks.

The world has changed. Mentoring Plus has changed, too. Every day we hear more about the “new normal,” and we’re pivoting to meet those new circumstances head-on. With our dedicated team, and with your help, Mentoring Plus will come away from this chapter stronger than before.

Dorothy Sets New Goals

Dorothy, who is pictured in orange in the picture above, has been in our program for some time now and has continued to grow and continues to demonstrate her kind, energetic, charismatic and spirited personality each week. We are so proud to announce that through much hard work, and dedication, she will be entering the 12th grade of high school next year should she continue to maintain and sustain passing grades and excel in her assignments. Currently she’s in 11th grade and planning for goals after life of high school. Dorothy has shown new levels of dedication in school by getting her grades up and earning passing grades. as she looks forward to graduating high school. She spends much of her time with her nieces and nephews, with whom she shares an apartment. We are proud of this youth and everything she is working towards. By working with a case manager and life coach at Mentoring Plus, Dorothy has started to set realistic goals for herself now and for the future. Dorothy has stated that she would like to get a job and move to an apartment on her own one day after she finishes school. We are so proud of this youth and all she is working towards, and aspiring to be. Keep up the work and continue spreading kindness to all those around you, Dorothy!