The Promise of a New School Year

Back to School KidsAs school starts each fall, we see everywhere the symbolism of beginning and renewal. It’s no accident that the term “a clean slate”, referring to a schoolboy’s tablet for chalk writing, is so common in our vocabulary.

What does the arrival of September mean for a Seedling’s Promise mentee?

For many, it means the return to a healthy and predictable routine, the guarantee of a regular breakfast and a hot lunch, re-connection with friends, and the surety of a mentor’s weekly visit. For most, it also means a new teacher (or several) and new expectations. For 30% or more of our mentees, it even means learning to navigate a new school because the family has moved or chosen a different school option, or because the student is undergoing the big change of entering middle school or high school.

How can a mentor help? Continue reading

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Zaira’s Story – A Mentee’s Journey

This year, at the Seedling Foundation Annual Mentor Appreciation Luncheon, our keynote speaker was one of our own.

Zaira Garcia joined the Seedling’s Promise Program when it began, and was one of the first 8th grade Seedling College Scholarship winners in 2007.  She was a tiny girl, as she walked across the stage of Webb Middle School to receive her $5,000 college scholarship promise and her classmates gave the winners a standing ovation.

Her Mentor, Margo Dover, and the Seedling’s Promise Program became part of Zaira’s life and transformed it in many ways over the years.  But, you see, we don’t have to tell you her story…she does it herself, right here.

Zairas Story

Click on the image to smile and perhaps even shed a tear as Zaira shares her journey with Seedling’s Promise with you.

 

 

 

 

 

About Zaira:

Zaira Garcia is a former Seedling’s Promise mentored student and current University of Texas at Austin undergraduate. She recently spoke at Seedling’s Annual Mentor Appreciation Event, about how her Seedling mentor impacted her life.

“We would meet once a week during my lunch hour and that was enough to help me cope with the loneliness I had become accustomed to…Having someone show up for you is a huge, huge deal…Thirty minutes once a week goes a long way for someone; someone who might get lost in the system, or someone who knows nothing about how important they are… (It) is enough to make a difference.”

Zaira’s message affirms that in just a few minutes each week, Seedling mentors make a significant and life-changing impact on a child’s life. This past school year, Seedling Foundation matched over 550 Central Texas school children with a caring, committed mentor.

This summer, we hope to recruit an additional 200 volunteers to match with both current and new children in the program. Will you help by becoming a mentor or making a donation to help us recruit and train new mentors?

We can’t do it without your support.

~Seedling’s Promise Staff

 

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Why I Give – One Donor’s Story

Amber TowersDonor Spotlight: Amber Towers

Amber Towers felt compelled to become a mentor as soon as she learned about the mission of the Seedling Foundation. Her first mentoring experience would introduce her to Errin, a 7th grader whom she would mentor throughout middle school and high school. Towers also had the unusual experience of being asked to serve as a foster parent for Errin when she was 16 years old, and Errin lived with Amber for two years.

Errin has since graduated and is working, going to school, and living on her own in an apartment she shares with a friend.

Towers said, “I’ve seen first-hand how just showing up once a week can truly change a child’s life. I saw how the program changed Errin. I saw how receiving a Seedling scholarship changed Errin. I know that she would not be in college now if it wasn’t for the scholarship and support she received from Seedling.” Continue reading

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Tipping Our Hats to Our Mentors

Hats Off to MentorsMay brings showers and bluebonnets to Central Texas along with Seedling’s annual rite of spring…the Mentor Appreciation Luncheon!

Hundreds of our Mentors gather with School Contacts, Seedling Board Members and Staff, Sponsors, Donors and our friends throughout Central Texas, for a noon time celebration of mentoring and the magic it brings into the lives of children.

Our Seedling College Scholarship Graduates are recognized and applauded, and the newest group of Seedling College Scholarship Winners (8th graders) are introduced to the community that has chosen to support them in their efforts to pursue more education and opportunities.

It is our favorite time of year.  As we shake hands and hug, trade stories and smiles, and re-dedicate ourselves to another year of making a difference.

Our keynote speaker this year was a young lady named Zaira Garcia.  She was one of our very first Seedling College Scholarship winners in 2007.  She graduated from high school in 2011 and claimed her scholarship and will now graduate this year from the University of Texas at Austin.  She dreams of being a teacher, and if her poise, intellect and character that she displayed as a speaker are any indication, her school and students are in for the treat of a lifetime.

Zaira reflected on the end of her 8th grade year, when she won her Seedling College Scholarship. Continue reading

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Summertime Mentoring Blues?

Mentees Thumbs UpMy mentee is thrilled about summer, right?

Who wouldn’t be happy about having no homework, sleeping a little later, and playing outside in the sunshine? But summer may include some other differences for your mentee. You might be surprised by some issues that could result in subtle signs of anxiety in your next few visits.

For many children, school represents a place of predictability and physical and emotional
safety, feelings that may be diminished or absent in the three months of summer. How
can a mentor help?

A good open-ended question such as “What do you think your summer will be like?” can
open the door. Use your best active listening skills to watch for small changes in
tone, facial expression or body language, and invite your mentee to talk about feelings.

Other questions might be:
 How will you spend your time away from school this summer?
 Who will you be with? (How old is your cousin?)
 Is there any part of the summer that you are really looking forward to?
 Is there any part of the summer that you’re worried about?
 Who do you talk to in the summer when something is bothering you?
 What do you usually do about lunch in the summer? **See below. Continue reading

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