I didn't know what to expect. But over the past few months I've gotten to know each one of them and feel the benefits of having a network of mentors supporting me.
- Ohana Student
Ohana HC is not just another mentoring organization - it is mentoring as a family! We form small groups of four diverse adults that wrap ourselves around a young teen empowering them to succeed, supporting them both academically and personally. This support from Ohana HC lasts 10 years for the student, though volunteers need commit for only one year (most stay longer than that!)
Sounds straight forward enough.... but we, as mentors, get so much more! We get to meet and work with our student and tangentially his/her family. We are also lucky enough to work deeply with members of our own four-person Ohana - people often from different demographics from ourselves. We get a chance to get to know them and through our intense work, form deep, caring bonds of our own with them. As our experience often involves frequent strong conversations about our student and their unique challenges, we come to share our own life experiences and paths, furthering our own bonds.
This shared mentorship brings us together as unique adults, each sharing our skills with one student as we seek to engage with and intimately help him/her thrive. But our own strands of caring and friendship are also growing and that has been a silver lining I never thought about or expected!
Growing up in the suburbs of Columbia, many people are blind to the potential problems that families face in our community, things like homelessness or struggling to get by. This can be very difficult on the parents in the house trying to stay afloat, but what about the kids trying to help out watching siblings or trying to contribute in the home as much as they can? Many times this comes at a cost. Whether it's getting to school or maintaining grades, it is hard to balance all of that for a child of any age.
Starting in a program in my high school, I became a mentor to be a support system for a child who was in need, regardless of what they were in need of. Mentoring is something that has become near and dear to my heart because not only am I able to help someone else in need, but all the people I have come into contact with have helped me as well. When I was in high school, I was motivated to do better not only myself, but my mentee as well. I pushed harder to be at every event, to get better grades, and to wake up every day and try to help another person.
Being in OhanaHC has been an amazing experience and we are just getting started. Normally, being a mentor it is just you and your mentee working with one another closely, but in OhanaHC, we have a support system for our support system. The women in my Ohana are there not only for our student, but for one another as well; we are becoming a family. I am so grateful to be a part of this organization and be able to make an impact on young lives as well as mine. Being in OhanaHC has shown me so many different sides of our community that I never would have seen if not for this organization, and has given me even a different outlook on life than previous organizations. I look forward to the future in OhanaHC - I am excited to be a part of it and to help build this organization into something I know will be great.
- Aniah Matthews
Howard University Class of 2023