A Collaborative Effort: Mentorship’s Vital Role in the Community

by Staff Writer Britni Sharde

Mentorship is believed to be guidance, influence, and support between two or more individuals. This professional or social relationship has impacted leaders all over the world. Communities in North Tulsa, both young and old, benefit greatly by participating in mentorship opportunities. 

Soaring Eagle’s Youth and Family Services (SEYFS) is a nonprofit organization located in North Tulsa. According to the website, their mission is “to engage, educate and empower at-risk youth and families through providing education, resources and intentionally-designed programs that provide them the life-skills and strategies they need to re-write their stories, define their futures, and succeed in life.” What does this mean for people that may not believe they’re at risk or have settled into the idea of lost hope? This means there is hope. The life-giving truth of hope is that it doesn’t exist until it is exposed to you. Organizations like Soaring Eagles Youth and Family Services are helping families navigate through trauma and provide guidance, reassuring every family that there can be an expectancy of greater things to come.

On June 7th and 8th of 2019, the organization hosted it’s 7th Annual Girl’s Teen Summit, with the theme of “Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open.” I had the opportunity to do a walk-through of their workshops and briefly interview the organization’s founder, Premadonna Braddick. Mrs. Braddick has been working with young ladies in the North Tulsa area for several years and is dedicated to the power of mentorship and education. The workshops included anti-bullying, developing healthy relationships and recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence, human trafficking, health and fitness, financial literacy, valuing education, career development, fashion and design, along with a basketball clinic and culinary arts. Her motto is “We hear, we care, and we’re most definitely there,” a motto that has taken root in the hearts and minds of mentees like Delashay Lawrence, one of the many young ladies that I had the honor of meeting. Ms. Lawrence helped organize a campaign to bring awareness to teen pregnancy called #notNow. The campaign’s primary focus is to encourage teen males and females to pursue a full education or sustainable career before having children.

In our candid conversation concerning mentorship, Mrs. Braddick explained that as she was discussing different topics with the young ladies participating in her workshops, she recognized the difficulties that these young ladies face every day. A multitude of our frustrations in our communities is surrounded by the fact that we feel alone, misunderstood, or neglected at an early age. We feel as though our experiences often reaffirm these thoughts and feelings. A practice of the mentor is to bring the mentee to a place of self- assessment, self-reflection, and, ultimately, helping the mentee to grow organically and fruitfully. 

I also had the privilege of viewing the parent workshop. There, Mrs. Braddick mentioned that kids are wanting more communication with their parents. She brought to light that the premise of this workshop is that “we’re not asking parents to condone poor behavior, we are simply asking them to hear [their] kids.” Parents often find themselves overworked, inundated, and at times, misunderstood by their children. Organizations such as SEYFS are willing to help parents figure out how to best communicate with their loved ones in ways that are healthy, resolute, and supportive. 

A mentor doesn’t have to be fixated on cultivating all the gifts of one person, nor are they expected to be a perfected person. The mentor’s role is to impart wisdom, build a vision, and support the ideals of their mentee. This encouragement can shift the trajectory of one’s future. Young ladies like Greonna Williams and Aaliyah Nelson, excelling in their education and fully equipped to impact all they encounter, are the products of such diligence. SEYFS is a prime example of the necessary work that our communities are doing in order to bring hope, light, and life in a world full of fears, anxiety, depression, and oppression.

Opportunities for guidance, reflection, and encouragement through mentorship bring enrichment to our families. Our communities have a history of working together and sticking together despite opposition from outside forces in the decades of the past. This determination towards the betterment of our communities is a vital component to the legacies of what we do both individually and collectively. Working together means encouraging, uplifting, and empowering growth and appreciation for one another. Mentorship is a small, yet impactful way to effectuate that reality.

Illustration: Patrick Norman