State salutes mentors from 3 church programs
Four United Methodists were among 35 outstanding mentors for youth honored Jan. 16 on the first Oklahoma Mentor Day at the Capitol, presented by the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
The quartet makes a difference in young lives in and out of the classroom by volunteering through OKC-St. Luke’s Church (Studio 222) and Tulsa-Asbury UMC (Project Transformation and "A&W," the Asbury & Whitman Elementary Connection).
The UM programs are among 60 such mentoring efforts—corporate, community, school and faith-based—in the Foundation’s network.
Some students joined their mentors for the special day, which included lunch, storytelling, interactive African drumming, presentation by a state Supreme Court justice, and visit to Science Museum Oklahoma. Award presenter was Kathy Taylor, former mayor of Tulsa and a Foundation trustee.
Cindy Colton and Kristie Johnson have mentored Chaquion Joyner for seven and two years, respectively. Colton directed Studio 222 when the after-school program launched; it expanded in January.
At three sites, artists teach youngsters through mediums such as photography, sculpture, drama, dance, painting, music, computer animation, creative writing, and cooking.
Now 18, Chaquion entered the program in middle school. "They are like the big sisters I never had and gave me love that kept me going and focusing on my goals," she said of her mentors.
Asbury & Whitman
In Tulsa, Regina Daniel has been matched with sisters Stephanie, 11, and Jennifer, 10, for three years.
Initially, Daniel met Jennifer through Asbury UMC’s "Lunch Bunch" partnership with Walt Whitman Elementary School. Soon she met Stephanie, then the girls’ mother, and all the family now calls her "Grandma Regina."
The sisters have attended church with her. Daniel is raising her granddaughter and hosts all three girls for adventures that have included Tulsa’s zoo and the Oklahoma Aquarium.
Eric "Ric" Bailey mentored Trevin Corona, age 9, during Project Transformation last summer. And through the A&W program, he joins the student at Whitman Elementary twice a month, eating lunch and reading with him.
Bailey is "always challenging him to excel," said Joanne Stadler, Asbury’s Project Transformation organizational chairperson.
"Ric has a heart for young people. He has been an enthusiastic, consistent mentor to youth for four years. He instills the feeling that they are loved (and) valued, and that they can achieve. He encourages the love of reading, enhancement of computer skills, and art talents. He also supports the program by volunteering as a driver for field trips or other off-campus events."