Dear Friends of DSABC,
With the 2014-15 school year coming to a close, I'd like to thank everyone who has made DSABC's 25th Anniversary Year a success. It is only through the phenomenal support of the business and school communities these many years that DSABC has been able to provide Danbury Public School students with positive one-on-one mentoring relationships resulting in outstanding outcomes for the youth served.
Since DSABC began in 1990, we have supported approximately 1,250 mentor/mentee matches and presented 174 scholarships totaling $243,000.
When thinking about how to best celebrate DSABC's 25
Anniversary, we always came back to the theme of our tag line, "Mentoring Making a Difference". We know the impact DSABC mentors have in supporting current students, especially with our scholarship recipients. However, we thought it would be great if we somehow could know the lasting difference DSABC mentoring has made once our graduates venture out into adulthood. In an attempt to seek out past mentees, we enlisted the help of volunteers to "reach out" to participants via social media, personal letter and emailed surveys. The feedback we received was truly amazing. Some of what we learned is that our past mentees went on to have careers in teaching (2 at DHS), as firefighters, nurses, entrepreneurs, ministers, and engineers, just to list a few. However, more importantly than the jobs they went on to have are the ways mentors influenced them as adults.
I'd like to share one of the many emails I received.
From Chaka Oliver, 1999 graduate, Mentored by Joseph Cerino:
"My memory of Joe is that he was an unusually smart and hard-working man who had an awesome career and a family. I'm ten times as grateful for him now then I was then. He gave good advice and I ignored a lot of it, but I pass it on now; and remember that I was once the same kind of teenager that I run into today. When I became a parent sophomore year of H.S., he gave me the summer job that got me the car that got the baby to a sitter, and me through high school (My wife and I have a home in Dallas, GA and we're doing OK. The child we had in high school is 17 and we have two younger daughters 9 and 3).
As far as people in my life at the time who were willing and able to do something like that for me, he was 'it'; and he delivered. Reflecting on it all reminds me that great communities are created by the selflessness of the people in it. I try to live that the best that I can.
I think the organization you represent is awesome and I appreciate what you all are doing for the youth up there. I'm sure every person out there that ever had a mentor of any type remembers something, appreciates it and finds a way to pay it forward. It wouldn't be happening up there in Danbury over the last 25 without you all."
My hope is for every DSABC mentor to take this summer to reflect on Chaka's words and to find encouragement in them. Mentoring certainly can be a challenging endeavor at times, with many ups and downs. The benefits may not be obvious in the moment, but know that you truly are making a positive difference in the lives you touch.
Wishing you all a wonderful, relaxing summer!