"Sometimes in my daily activity I see discouraging things. Participating in Lunch Pals restores my faith, and gives me hope for the future." Officer Vaughn Murphy
Hope, inspiration, sharing interests - all goals we have in mind for the students' Lunch Pals experiences. But the students are not the only ones having these "ah ha" moments - the mentors are, too. "You go to a school to mentor a student and be that example, but they teach you way more than you teach them!" added Officer Murphy, who meets weekly with John Hopkins Middle School 6th graders, Zion and Landen.
Detective Kenneth Miller enjoys being reminded of what it's like to be a kid again as he shares sports interests and helps with goal setting when meeting weekly with Dajon, a 5th grader at Fairmount Park Elementary.
Dajon shared, "I like that he is someone I can always talk to.
He helps me understand why it's important for me to get my
||Detective Miller and Dajon
homework done and behave right at school, home and in my neighborhood. We talk about how to make the right choices and stay away from bullying. He helps me to be a good person."
We are grateful for the many beneficial relationships being built, with more than 30 students enjoying the positive presence of St. Petersburg Police Department mentors. Mentors were placed at a variety of schools in close proximity to the areas of the city in which the staff serve.
Recognizing the potential of mutually beneficial relationships, Chief Anthony Holloway shared his
100 percent endorsement of employees' involvement by promoting and hosting an on-site mentor training.
"This inaugural Lunch Pals partnership year has been promising. Our personnel who have
committed to volunteering in the program have gained inner satisfaction in knowing that through their efforts they have inspired growth and development of our young citizens. Their willingness to use their gifts and abilities has strengthened the mission of the program and has set an example in giving. Listening, encouraging, and just being there on a consistent basis have all helped to increase their mentees' self-esteem and self-assurance, traits that will serve them well into
the future." Chief Anthony Holloway
What are the three best things about being a Lunch Pals mentor? Detective Miller's response summed up goals of the partnership well. "The interaction with students, the opportunity to debunk myths about law enforcement and the opportunity to help students be comfortable with police as relationships are built."
Both Officer Murphy and Detective Miller shared similar motivations for getting involved - simply giving back wherever they were needed most in the communities they serve professionally on a daily basis.
"It's our job to fill them up with positive things. If we don't someone else will be there to do the opposite," shared Officer Murphy.
Thank you, St. Petersburg Police Department, for your professional and volunteer investments in our youth, schools and community!