Mrs. Reed knew her high school girls needed more support than the school was able to give. As a Planning Center* Instructional Aid, she also knew many of the teachers were disconnected from their students. She dreamed of creating a program that connected the students to teachers and potential mentors, but then COVID hit and the students were isolated at home.
When students were finally back in the building for the 2021-2022 school year, she found the need for mentors even greater than before. Fortunately, the Freshmen Principal was well acquainted with a local ministry called City Life. The principal had even been a City Life student when he was growing up, so he connected Mrs. Reed with City Life Staff, Erin. Erin had already been going to the school a few times a week to pass out fliers and meet kids in the lunchroom. The introduction allowed Mrs. Reed’s dream to come into reality.
When Mrs. Reed pitched her idea, Erin was excited for the opportunity to join the project. Mentoring high school girls had always been her favorite part of ministry. Together, they decided to call the program, H.E.R. (Hermanas Entering Reality). Before they began, they surveyed all of the girls in the school. The Survey asked questions like “What are you interested in?” and “Where would you like to go on trips?” The girls had great ideas like going thrifting, to the zoo or to the art museum. They also mentioned wanting to do art, get help with school work, and nearly all of them said they just wanted someone to talk to. So, Erin and Mrs. Reed made a plan, recruited a few more mentors, and launched HER in November.
So it begins…
The first meeting they invited the girls’ parents in order to bridge the connection between the family and the school. Fourteen girls and five teachers met after school in the school’s cafeteria that first day. The next meeting, Erin picked up the girls from school in a 12 passenger van and drove them to the City Life Center. They continued this pattern for the rest of the year meeting twice per month, once at the school and once at the Center. They would talk about relationships, fighting, how to talk to teachers, how to advocate for themselves, and more. Sometimes they would have twelve girls and others only three, but relationships were growing all the while.
In February, the girls arranged a fundraiser for Valentine’s to support their group. They decided to sell candy grams, bears, raffle tickets for big prizes, carnations in different colors with special meanings, and cans of Crush “to send to your crush”. The girls delivered the orders during class. It turned out to be a huge success. The girls had enjoyed the process of planning and executing the fundraiser together. They even raised enough money, so Erin and Mrs. Reed could take them bowling.
By the spring, a few of the girls had become regulars at the City Life Center. They attended a variety of different programs and signed up for events. Each one of them heard the Gospel at least once and were building relationships with more Bible believing adults. They even began inviting their friends to come hang out at the Center extending City Life’s reach within their community.
Towards the end of the school year, the girls who participated in HER were given another survey. In their responses, each girl indicated she now had a safe adult to talk to and many of them said Erin was that person. She was flattered to be trusted by so many of them, encouraged by the growth saw in them, and looking forward to walking with them through their high school careers. Most of these girls were freshmen and Erin can see the day they mentor future freshmen. Mrs. Reed and Erin intend to continue a version of HER next school year and are looking forward to additional partnerships they can build to support these young ladies.
*The Planning Center is for students who have been kicked out of class or required to serve in-school suspension