Friday, February 8, 2013

Youthful Energy Required! Meet Ms. Ava

The relationship between Raising Expectations and me did not occur by happenstance. No, this relationship was definitely by divine intervention orchestrated by Jesus and all his disciples. I say this because I was always the person who said that I did not like children and that I would never have any of my own. Granted, I was in high school when I made those statements, but I believed them. I was a freshman at Spelman College when Shayla Wilson and Jessica Williams approached me at the college’s volunteer fair. “You should join RE. It’s a mentoring and tutoring program,” said Jessica. Shayla chimed in with a “you need your six hours of community service for the semester, so this is where you should get them.” Honest truth, the latter statement was what reeled me in. My first day at RE was….interesting. I had never had experience in working with children, but with Maria and Tangee’s guidance I was able to quickly shade my inexperience and efficiently assist LaSheeba with her homework. By the end of programming, I was hooked. RE was where I belonged. For the rest of my undergraduate career I didn’t just consider RE as a place where I racked up on community service hours (2.5 hours/day X 3 to 5/days a week X 4 academic years….you do the math!).  I considered it a place of refuge. I would come to Raising Expectations on days that weren’t assigned to me because being there with the children allowed me to release my stresses from school and I was able to, at least, provide them with some relief from the stresses they were experiencing at home, at school, and in the community. I was able to establish meaningful relationships with my mentees as well as gain some wonderful friendships with other mentors. Upon my return to RE as a staff member in August of 2011, I didn’t have any anxieties about not being able to successfully and skillfully do my job. I had 4 years of teaching, mentoring, tutoring, counseling, parenting, social work, psychiatry, and mediation under my belt. The only difference now is that I’m on the payroll.
by: Ava Hanks

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