New Board Members Appointed

January 05, 2021

Affinity Mentoring today announced several new appointments to its board of directors, including Marcia Boyce, Abigail Bruins, and Christine Mwangi.

Marcia BoyceMarcia received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Yale University and her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law. Marcia practiced as a Corporate Banking and Finance attorney for over 15 years. She is licensed to practice law in the states of Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and recently completed both General Civil and Domestic Relations Mediator training. Marcia has taken a hiatus from the practice of law to focus on her family but remains active in the community. Marcia is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Bar Association, currently serves on the PTO Board of her daughter’s school, Ada Vista Elementary, and is the Treasurer and a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. In the past, Marcia served on the Fundraising Board of the Kent District Library and as Treasurer of the Board of the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute. Marcia and her husband, Hayden, have two children, Christian and Morgan. Marcia enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family.
Abigail BruinsAbigail was born and raised in Grand Rapids, and currently resides in the Baxter neighborhood. She has a background in community engagement, sales and development, and environmental chemistry. Abigail spends her days working as the Director of Business Development for local company Canopy Resources. She also owns and operates her own pet sitting business. Abigail is a graduate of Michigan State University where she received a degree in Earth Science. In her early 20s, Abigail spent time teaching middle school science, which is, in part, what drew her to Affinity Mentoring. Abigail is eager to support Affinity Mentoring in driving forward the mission to create equitable learning opportunities throughout our city.
Christine MwangiChristine is a change agent who has utilized her entrepreneurial background to establish a charitable organization that has helped educate hundreds of marginalized women on critical women’s health matters. As a global citizen who has lived, worked in and been educated in 3 continents (Africa, Europe and N.America), Christine also possesses a global lens that she skillfully uses to facilitate courageous conversations about race, privilege and culture. She lends her expertise and thought-provoking leadership to non-profits, educational institutions, foundations, and public sector organizations. Christine is the proud founder of Be a Rose, Inc., Grounded in Equity, LLC and the Pulsing Black Podcast.

A full list of board members can be found at https://affinitymentoring.org/about/the-team/.

Decolonizing Thanksgiving

By Cassandra Kiger

City of GR Proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

For many, November marks the beginning of the holiday season, and though this year will inevitably look different, we can still find unique and creative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. Balancing thankfulness while also acknowledging our very complicated reality takes a lot of intentionality. May each of us take moments to be kind to ourselves and notice the good things that do exist around us, but also challenge ourselves to see things in a new light. 

Our community has slowly been working to more accurately tell the stories of Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids Public School now has a full Native American Education Program, and Mayor Rosalynn Bliss formally recognized October 12 at Indigenous People’s Day (instead of Columbus Day), a year after Governor Gretchen Whitmer did the same in the state of Michigan. 


We encourage each person to consider how you and your family and friends can make steps alongside our community to “decolonize” our Thanksgiving traditions and take time to learn a more accurate narrative. Check out these resources for suggestions:

Mission, Mutual Liberation, and BLM

Mission, Mutual Liberation, and BLM: A Letter from Affinity’s Executive Director

On June 1, like many local and national organizations, Affinity Mentoring made a public statement supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM). We struggled with the decision of whether or not to release a statement, not because we don’t fully support it, but because a statement is just words unless there is action and accountability behind it. We decided to publicly show our support for BLM to hold ourselves accountable, lean into our mission, and leverage our networks and resources to encourage others to do so. Included in our statement we wrote:

“We believe an individual’s ability to provide for their family, have access to basic resources, and an opportunity for equitable education are all pieces of this broader work. Over 80% of the students and families that partner with Affinity identify as people of color, and over 80% are economically disadvantaged; this is not a coincidence (Learn more about equitable economic growth and access to capital).” 

Additionally, our website reads: “[w]e work towards the mutual liberation of all community members and believe that youth are already leaders and community members, but need equitable access and platforms to use their voice.” This verbiage is based on a quote by Lilla Watson, an Indigenous Australian artist and activist who stated, “[i]f you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” 

As we continue to internally scrutinize our work and identify our blindspots and where we have room for improvement, one key area is in how we spend our dollars, and deciding to intentionally reinvest back into the communities we partner alongside. We have taken advantage of the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses’ (GRABB) #30days30dollars challenge to hold ourselves publicly accountable to making financial decisions that support Black lives. 

In GRABB’s words, “[t]he challenge aims to promote Black-owned businesses across the city and increase dollars flowing to the businesses and communities they are located in. By shifting your dollars to Black Businesses you will be playing a vital role improving the quality of life in economically marginalized neighborhoods in Grand Rapids while purchasing great products and services.”

We want to make it clear that this is not charity or philanthropy work. We need these services and products, we investigated who had the ability to provide quality services and products, and Black-owned businesses have earned our capital. During the month of September Affinity Mentoring spent $3,898 at local, Black-owned businesses, and between last quarter and this quarter we will have spent $5,845 at local, Black-owned businesses. As September comes to a close and the #30days30dollars challenge ends we call on individuals, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations to consider not only how programming and products impact our community, but how expenditures can contribute towards greater wealth divides or greater equity amongst community members; our mutual liberation depends upon our conscious decisions. 

Diatribe Artwork through Woosah Collaboration

Below is a list of businesses that Affinity has or will receive excellent products and services from; we highly recommend each of them. We invite the community to continue to hold us accountable and continue challenging us on ways that we can improve living out our belief that Black Lives Matter. We also gratefully accept recommendations or new ideas for how we can continue to spend our money at Black-owned businesses. 

Sincerely,

Cassandra Kiger, Executive Director

Local Black-Owned Businesses: 

  • Daddy’s Dough Cookies
    • We highly recommend the Cookie Baking Kits for a team building activity to do in-person or virtually, individually wrapped snacks for in-person events, and they will be a featured part of our Cuentos y Comida event goodie bags.
  • Shannon Cohen, Inc. 
    • Not only do we keep a stash of Shannon Cohen cards for every occasion in the office, but four staff members attended the Rockstar Woman Brunch 2020.
  • Malamiah Juice 
    • A featured part of our Cuentos y Comida goodie bags, part of our staff “Shout Out” prizes, and they make excellent booster shots to keep our team healthy.
  • Rising Grinds Cafe 
    • We encourage teammates to recognize each other’s achievements for a chance to win local gift cards! Also, don’t miss the mouth watering Rising Grinds Soul Food Menu.
  • Mosby’s Popcorn 
    • Their Social Pop program will be a featured part of our Cuentos y Comida goodie bags. 
  • Genesis Consulting Group 
    • They will be running our online Cuentos y Comida event; tune in to see their amazing skills.
  • Grounded In Equity
    • Christine Mwangi is highly experienced in leading teams through diversity, equity and inclusion work, and she will be supporting our team as we work to build better DEI practices into our long-term strategic planning. Contact her at groundedinequity@gmail.com.
  • Medra’s Art by Medra Stoner
    • Medra Stoner, a local mix-media artist, completed two commissioned pieces that now hang in the Affinity Mentoring Goei Center office. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @medras_art.
  • The Diatribe
    • The Diatribe collaborated with Woosah to create a series of posters in support of Black Lives Matter. Four of these posters hang in the Affinity Mentoring Goei Center office.

For a more comprehensive list of Black-owned businesses check out GRABB’s Directory.

Advancing Equity through Innovative Partnerships

By Rachel Humphreys

At Affinity, we work towards the mutual liberation of all of our community and believe that youth are already leaders and community members, but need equitable access and platforms to use their voice. Affinity’s mentoring model provides individual, one hour per week mentoring with trained, safe, supportive adults to support the growth of leadership and social-emotional skills, as well as math and literacy skills.

“We collaborate closely with school administration, community partners, and community members  that share our values to build close relationships and are strategically involved in area schools in a manner that strives to advance equity. Our partners help recruit mentors, financially support our program, and advocate for our organization,” explains Cassandra Kiger, executive director of Affinity Mentoring. “We have nearly 30 local partners, including Gordon Food Service, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Steelcase Foundation, and Kent School Services Network.”

This year we have worked extremely hard to rebuild and innovatively rethink our entire approach to mentoring in the most equitable way possible. As we reviewed community feedback and local data on health and safety, as well as personal fears surrounding COVID of various populations (Kent County Racial/Ethnic Data) (Kent Co. Latinos with COVID Die Younger and More Often) (African Americans Disproportionately Affected), we quickly realized that traditional mentoring would no longer be accessible to all students. 

For the past eight weeks the Affinity team has worked tirelessly to develop accessible, equitable, and safe methods for all mentors and mentees to continue meeting weekly from the safety of their homes, and/or with students in clean, individual spaces in mentor centers. “The overall cost of this overhaul in staff time and material resources has been approximately $30,000 above and beyond regular programming costs, but we believe that it is worth all students safely having access to mentoring, and we recognize the long-term investment that we are making in accessibility and technology,” explains Cassandra.

We shared our need for COVID relief and virtual mentoring support and our partners at Gordon Food Service (GFS) immediately stepped up to help. Despite being financially affected themselves by the pandemic, GFS committed to supplying 60 devices for our Mentor Centers. (Though students receive devices through their school, each household has a different level of technological fluency. Devices will be provided to families who specifically site issues with technology navigation as a barrier to virtual mentoring, as these devices will be specifically preprogrammed with all technology necessary for mentoring.) This equates to roughly $12,000 in technology support, not including the countless hours their IT department spent to ensure the computers were ready for students and mentors. GFS has been one of Affinity’s community partners since 2015 and the number of employees that volunteer as mentors has grown exponentially (8 to 84). 


Dave Veldink + Student Mentee

“Our [company] culture is reflective of our values. The Gordons are an amazing family and [Affinity Mentoring] ties in closely with the values of GFS,” says Dave Veldink, NA Director of Marketing and Merchandising Operations at Gordon Food Service and longtime mentor at Affinity

Not only are employees encouraged to volunteer, but leadership at GFS has done everything to remove obstacles from employees who would like to be mentors. This includes being flexible about scheduling accommodations for mentors and not requiring hourly employees to clock out during their mentoring hours. 

“We are proud to support Affinity Mentoring as an organization, but it’s our caring volunteer mentors that are the heart of our effort,” explains Rich Wolowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gordon Food Service (GFS). “This recent donation of technology will help ensure kids continue to connect with and build relationships with their mentors, to the social and academic benefit of the students, their families, and our community.”  

At Affinity we are grateful for our partners, like Gordon Food Service, who find innovative ways to leverage their resources, social capital, and network to support mentoring. To find out more about becoming a community partner click here.



Affinity is accepting applications for new mentors for Fall 2020. Our goal is to recruit 100 new mentors by September 9 and we currently need 53 more!

Laurie Vanderbroek + Student Mentee

Become a Mentor | Apply Now >
No prior mentoring experience is needed and we match people based on their interests, personalities, and background! Last year we matched 286 students with a mentor, our goal this year is 300. The online application takes less than 10 minutes. Once you have applied you will be contacted by one of our program staff to schedule an in-person interview. For the health and safety of students and mentors, this year mentoring will be virtual (learn more).

Commitment
One hour per week (during the school day 8am-4pm) for one school year (late September – late May). We cater to working professionals and can be flexible and reschedule sessions.

Mentoring Sites | More Info Here > 

  • Burton Elementary School and Burton Middle School
  • Southwest Community Campus Elementary 
  • Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center 

Affinity Welcomes 3 New Interns

Hannah Noorman

Hannah is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Social Work at Grand Valley State University and plans to continue her education to earn a Master’s of Social Work. She works as the Director of Operations for a local marketing agency and is excited to learn more about community building and program development while interning with Affinity. Hannah understands the importance of mentoring as she had two adults from her church mentor her throughout her childhood and teen years. In her free time, she enjoys painting, baking, playing volleyball, and spending time with her twin niece and nephew.

Hannah will be working alongside Affinity’s Director of Development, Rachel Humphreys, and Burton Site Coordinator, Rocio Moreno.

Hallie Miller

Hallie Miller is pursuing her Bachelor’s of Social Work a minor in Psychology at Calvin University. Born and raised in Oceanside, California, she moved to Michigan for college in the hopes of experiencing four seasons. After Calvin, she plans to pursue a Master’s of Social Work focusing on Community Organizing and working with non-profits in the future. She is excited about interning with Affinity because she believes education is so important and has the potential change lives.

Hallie will be working with Rocio Moreno, Site Coordinator at Burton Elementary.

Zach Yokom

Zach Yokom is a MSW/MPA graduate student studying Nonprofit Management. He has lived in the Grand Rapids area since 2011, but is originally from Canton, MI. Zach has been working in the GRPS school system for 3 years and brings a variety of different perspectives from a collection of roles and positions, including IKUS: Life Enrichment Services and Ottawa Hills High School. He has a passion for working with youth and supporting them along their journey towards adulthood. He notes that he has had great leaders in his life, personally and professionally, that have helped him grow immensely and he hopes to enrich others in the same way. 

Zach will be working with Affinity’s Executive Director, Cassandra Kiger on fund development and sustainability.

If you or your employer are interested in learning more about our internship programs please contact info@affinitymentoring.org.

Cuentos y Comida Event

Cuentos y Comida (Stories and Sustenance)

Disponible en español abajo

A traditional table hosted event would involve Affinity Mentoring partners participating as table hosts by inviting friends, coworkers and other acquaintances to come to the event, share a meal and listen to stories with them. This year, however, is anything but traditional. Due to COVID-19 precautions we will be holding a virtual event. Hosts will invite friends and colleagues to join them at a location of their choice to stream Affinity’s video that shares the impact of mentoring, community partnerships, and the power of relationships. Video will be available in English and Spanish.


Become an event sponsor!


Impact

As adults during this time we are experiencing heightened levels of stress, anxiety, fear, and lack of support systems; now just imagine what it must feel like to be 10 years old. During uncertain times with a lack of routine, supports, and social contacts mentoring is more important than ever for young people.

We recognize that pushing forward our traditional mentoring style creates barriers for some families, and we are deeply committed to providing equitable mentoring services at no cost to families, students, or our school partners. Therefore, this year we are adapting our mentoring program to a virtual platform for which there is a significant start-up cost (approximately 431% increase). In addition to increased operating costs, we are anticipating a shortfall of at least $30,000 due to our partnerships that are being financially affected by COVID-19.

Your participation in this event helps ensure that we are able to continue to provide high-quality mentoring and family support to students in Grand Rapids and Wyoming.


Goodie Bags

Each participant that attends a watch party in-person will receive a gift bag with treats and swag from local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) owned businesses. The more people who attend your watch party, the more goodies everyone receives!
  • Tier 1 [2-4 people]: Affinity Mentoring pen; imentor sticker; Mosby’s Popcorn bags
  • Tier 2 [5-8 people]: Tier 1 goodies; Malamiah Juice Bar (1 bottle per person); Daddy’s Dough Cookies (2 cookies per person)
  • Tier 3 [8-10 people]: Tier 1 and tier 2 goodies; Handmade face mask from Guelaguetza Designs; Affinity Mentoring t-shirt

Join Us Live!

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2020
Tune In: [Facebook Livestream] begins at 6pm [Facebook account is not required]
Location: Your host’s location, home computer or cell phone
Cost: No registration fee[we are accepting sponsorships and donations]

RSVP ON FACEBOOK


If you’d like to be host please contact Rachel Humphreys at info@affinitymentoring.org.

Thank you to our sponsors | Gracias a nuestros patrocinadores

EQUITY PARTNERS
VIRTUAL CONNECTORS
WELLNESS ADVOCATEGAME PRIZE SPONSORS


Cuentos y Comida (Stories and Sustenance en inglés)

Un evento tradicional organizado con invitados a un almuerzo involucraría a los socios de Affinity Mentoring que participan como anfitriones de la mesa al invitar a amigos, compañeros de trabajo y otros conocidos a asistir al evento, compartir una comida y escuchar historias con ellos. Este año, sin embargo, nada es tradicional. Debido a las precauciones de COVID-19, realizaremos un evento virtual. Los anfitriones invitarán a amigos y colegas a unirse con ellos en el lugar que elijan para transmitir el video de Affinity que comparte el impacto de la mentoría, las asociaciones comunitarias y el poder de las relaciones. El video estará disponible en inglés y español.


¡Conviértase en patrocinador del evento!


Impacto

Como adultos, durante este tiempo nos sentimos niveles elevados de estrés, ansiedad, miedo y falta de sistemas de apoyo; ahora imagina lo que se debe sentir al tener 10 años. En tiempos de incertidumbre con falta de rutina, apoyos y contactos sociales, la mentoría es más importante que nunca para los jóvenes.

Reconocemos que seguir con nuestro estilo tradicional de mentoría crea barreras para algunas familias, y estamos profundamente comprometidos a brindar servicios de mentoría equitativos sin costo para las familias, los estudiantes y nuestros socios escolares. Por ello, este año estamos adaptando nuestro programa de mentoría a una plataforma virtual para la que existe un coste de empieza significativo (aumento de aproximadamente un 431%). Además del aumento de los costos operativos, anticipamos un déficit de al menos $30,000 debido a nuestros socios que se ven afectados financieramente por COVID-19.

Su participación en este evento ayuda a garantizar que podamos continuar brindando mentoría y apoyo familiar de alta calidad a los estudiantes en Grand Rapids y Wyoming.


Bolsas de Regalo Con Gradas

Cada participante preregistrado recibirá una bolsa de regalo con sopresas y botines de negocios locales propiedados por personas BIPOC (negros, indígenas, gente de color) (por sus siglas en inglés). ¡Cuantas más personas asistan a su fiesta, más regalos recibirán todos!
  • Grada 1 [2-4 personas]: Bolígrafo de Affinity Mentoring; Pegatina imentor ; Bolsitas de palomitas Mosby’s 
  • Grada 2 [5-8 personas]: Las sopresas de Grada 1; Jugo de Malamiah  (1 botella por persona); Galletas de Daddy’s Dough (2 galletas por persona)
  • Grada 3 [8-10 personas]: Las sopresas de Grada 1 y Grada 2; Mascarilla de Guelaguetza Designs; Camiseta de Affinity Mentoring 

¡Únete a nosotros en vivo!

Fecha: Jueves, 22 de Octobre 22
Ver en directo: [Facebook Livestream] comienza a las 6:30pm [No se require una cuenta de Facebook ]
Location: Ubicacion de los anfitriones, su computadora o teléfono móvil
Costo: sin tarifa de registro [estamos aceptando patrocinios y donaciones]

RSVP EN FACEBOOK


Si quiere ser un anfitrione por favor contacte Rachel Humphreys al info@affinitymentoring.org.

Kent District Library Partnership

By Rachel Humphreys

Kent District Library (KDL) has been an excellent partner alongside Affinity Mentoring for the past year. “KDL leadership is proud to support Affinity Mentoring and grow our partnership this fall. All KDL employees are encouraged to become mentors. To help make this a reality all KDL employees can use one paid hour of time each week to mentor,” explains Brian Mortimore, Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development at KDL and mentor at Burton Elementary.

“Promoting literacy skills is what we’re all about so it was a natural fit for KDL to partner with Affinity Mentoring and encourage our staff to mentor young people and we’re proud to continue that tradition in the year ahead,” continues Brian.

KDL plans to help recruit more employees this year even though mentoring will look at bit different. For the health and safety of students and mentors, this year mentoring will be in a virtual format (read more on virtual mentoring). However, what hasn’t changed is the support, “mentors will continue to have extensive support from site coordinators at each school, and support students in building skills in leadership, self-confidence, literacy and math,” says Cassandra Kiger, Executive Director of Affinity Mentoring.



Last year 8 KDL employees served as mentors and we want to highlight what a few had to say about their experience.

Julie Cook at Godfrey-Lee ECC

Julie Cook | Wyoming Assistant Branch Librarian
“My favorite memory with my mentee is doing hands-on literacy activities, fooling them that we are just playing a game, but in reality, we are practicing important literacy skills. I would highly suggest that KDL employees take the opportunity to be a positive role model in a child’s life, especially if they are located near your KDL branch. You can promote KDL materials and programing ideas to a child. It really shows that an adult in her life, outside of her family, really cares for their success socially, emotionally, and academically.”

Anjie Gleisner at Godfrey-Lee ECC

Anjie Gleisner | Wyoming Branch Manager
“As a youth librarian turned library manager, I often miss reading to my story time kiddos! It’s wonderful to be able to share books with a child again. Mentoring has been a great way to establish a connection with a school near my library and it’s a wonderful change of pace to my work week. It’s something that I have always wanted to do but could not because of my work schedule. My employer allowed me the flexibility to do this during the workday. This was a huge plus! It’s something that I look forward to every week.”




Learn more about our community partnerships or sign up to become a mentor.

Mentor Boss Lady

By Rachel Humphreys

Meet Burton Site Coordinator, Rocio Moreno, or better known to kindergarteners as “Mentor Boss Lady.” 

2019 EPIC Awards Celebration

Rocio joined Affinity in 2017 as the Mentor Center Manager and was promoted to Site Coordinator in 2018. Prior to her role at Affinity she served as a Trauma Counselor at Safe Harbor using Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 

Rocio earned her Master’s of Social Work from Grand Valley State University and her Bachelor’s of Social Work from Hope College. She always knew she wanted to work with children and her goal was to find an organization where she was supported, had the opportunity to grow, and felt a sense of belonging. 

“I love the fact that this organization is family-oriented. Affinity always puts the best interest of the family first. I am able to speak in Spanish and not feel out of place or looked down upon. From the first time that I walked into the Burton Site for my interview, I could hear families and staff speaking in Spanish and I couldn’t help but feel like this was home.” 

Rocio feels a close connection to many of the students and families in the Burton community. Fleeing a dangerous situation, Rocio came to the U.S. from Mexico with her mom and brother at the age of three. Moving to a new country with a different language and culture she explains,  “I can relate to a lot of the kids and families. I only spoke Spanish and didn’t start learning English until Kindergarten. I hated reading, I was often embarrassed.”  

Rocio was a good student and “good girl.” However, at the age of 11 she joined a gang for protection and belonging. “My mom worked more than two jobs to be able to provide for us. I started to get into a lot of trouble. I was the kid who got sent to the principal’s office and would get into fights.” 

At age 16 she became pregnant with her first son, Luis. “I wanted to fill the void I felt and to feel loved.” Having Luis changed her life and perspective. When Luis was 3 months old she decided to get out of the gang. The only way to do this was to be “jumped out.” She spent the next two weeks in the hospital, but she knew it was the right decision. 

Her next step was college, “I knew I had to go to school and complete it.” She dedicated herself to studying; going so far as taking Luis with her to class and walking across the stage together for her graduation. “I had no life. I only slept about two hours a night for four years, setting alarms throughout the night to study or finish homework. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” she recalls.  After earning her Bachelors she went on to complete her Masters in an accelerated one year program.

Reflecting on where she’s been and where she wants to be, she smiles, “I have everything I ever wanted by 26; my Master’s Degree, two kids, and working in a job I want to be in – I leave each day wanting to come back the next. This is what I wanted for my life and what I wanted for my kids.”

“Working with Affinity has had a great impact on my career. I am not from the Grand Rapids area. But I have been able to make many different connections with many different people and organizations.” Affinity’s network includes over 30 local nonprofits and corporate partners, two school districts, and more than 300 mentors and families each year.

She sees herself as an advocate, “I am always trying to make sure that the family’s basic needs are met and that they are receiving the support that they need. I am always trying to connect with mentors to find out in what ways I am able to help support them so that the role of a mentor can be fun and exciting for them.”

Rocio approaches mentor matching with a unique perspective, “I always say that matching is a little bit of art, science, and a whole lot of gut because even though a mentor and student might have a lot of similarities that does not mean that they would be a good fit for each other. Which is why I always trust what my gut tells me.”

She starts by looking at the students who have been waiting the longest for a mentor, “After talking to the student, teacher, and parents I sit down and look at all of my mentors. I begin to look for similarities between the student and potential mentor as well as what the biggest need of the student is and which one of my mentors who help fill that need. Lastly, I trust what my gut tells me regarding a potential match.” 

“I sit down with the mentor for an hour-long interview where I ask them multiple questions about their family, support system, and elementary experiences. Why they want to become a mentor and how they might go about handling certain situations. I also get an understanding of their interests and hobbies.”

“The hardest part of my job is telling a student that I was unable to find a mentor for them. However, it is even more difficult when I have to tell a 5th grader this because I am unable to match them in middle school. So in a sense, they missed out on the opportunity to receive a mentor. This is the hardest part because every student knows me as the “mentor boss lady.” They are very aware of the color papers that I distribute to different students. They know that green is the intake form, blue is the permission slip to receive a mentor, orange is an absent or day change notice, and white can mean anything from you having been matched to a letter informing their parents that I was not able to match them this year.”

When she’s not at work she loves to exercise, “I wake up at 4 am every day to go to the gym.” She has two sons, Luis and Rolando,  “I love to be with my two wonderful boys playing games, being outside, reading, and dancing.” She also has a love for baking,  especially sugar cookies. In the future Rocio hopes to one day become a probation officer for juveniles. This year she is focusing on studying to pass her Clinical Social Work State Exam.

Reflecting on her journey she explains, “The biggest thing that motivates me is knowing that throughout all of my tribulations I have learned so much and my boys will one day be able to look back and see that if mom was able to accomplish so much in her life they will have no excuse but to give it their all as well. Because I’m raising warriors who will help make this world a better place for us all.” 

“Right now I am looking forward to seeing all of my kiddos’ faces once again. Seeing their smiles and making them feel important and valued when they come into my office is one of the greatest things when I’m in the office. I know firsthand how much feeling valued, loved, and understood can mean to a child and the lengths that they might go to feel the sense of belonging.”

Meet the rest of the team and read their bios.

COVID-19 Relief and Technology Needs

[Disponible en Español abajo]

As adults during this time we are experiencing heightened levels of stress, anxiety, fear, and lack of support systems; now just imagine what it must feel like to be 10 years old. During uncertain times with a lack of routine, supports, and social contacts mentoring is more important than ever for young people. Students need as many safe adults as possible in their lives to help them navigate the emotions and struggles that this pandemic has additionally placed on them and their families. We urgently ask you to continue supporting Affinity Mentoring’s work as we walk alongside partners and families, and we promise to do everything in our power to make this work safe and healthy.

Our transition to a virtual platform helps ensure the health and safety of our program participants. We are currently working to ensure (with help from supporters) that Affinity Mentoring has all of its own technology needs supplied through our programming and students/families/schools do not have to provide their own. 

In a typical year, replenishing our Mentor Centers costs approximately $3,500 (new books, games, activities, etc.), however, we anticipate the transition to a virtual platform costing approximately $18,600 (a 431% increase). 

Estimated COVID-19 Programming Costs

  • iPads/laptops: $250 X 60 = $15,000
  • Headphones: $25 X 60 = $1,500
  • Disinfectant wipes: $60/mo X 10 months = $600
  • Hand sanitizer: $150 X 10 months= $1,500

TOTAL COST: $18,600

In addition to increased operating costs, we are anticipating a shortfall of at least $30,000 due to our partnerships that are being financially affected by COVID-19.

During this uncertain time, we ask that you continue to support the work of Affinity Mentoring and other nonprofits in our community.* Your support is more important than ever. 

*At this time we are not accepting personal device donations, however, please consider donating to our general fund to directly support these needs.

Questions or Concerns? Please direct your questions to the following people:

Thank you for your continued support and understanding during these challenging times. 

MAKE A DONATION

Resources




Apoyo para COVID-19 Necesidades de Tecnología

Como adultos durante este tiempo sentimos niveles elevados de estrés, ansiedad, miedo y falta de sistemas de apoyo; ahora imagínense cómo se sentiría si tuviera 10 años de edad. En tiempos de incertidumbre con falta de rutina, apoyo y contactos sociales, la mentoría es más importante que nunca para los jóvenes. Los estudiantes necesitan tantos adultos seguros como sea posible en sus vidas para ayudarlos a navegar las emociones y las luchas que esta pandemia también ha puesto encima de ellos y sus familias. Le pedimos urgentemente que continúe apoyando el trabajo de Affinity Mentoring mientras caminamos junto con socios y familias, y prometemos hacer todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para que este trabajo sea seguro y saludable.

Nuestra transición a una plataforma virtual ayuda a garantizar la salud y la seguridad de los participantes de nuestro programa. Actualmente estamos trabajando para asegurar (con la ayuda de apoyantes y socios) que Affinity Mentoring tiene toda la tecnología necesaria a través de nuestra programación y que los estudiantes/familias/escuelas no tienen que proporcionarla.



En un año típico, rellenar nuestros Centros de Mentoría cuesta aproximadamente $3,500 (para libros nuevos, juegos, actividades, etc.), sin embargo, anticipamos que la transición a una plataforma virtual costará aproximadamente $18,600 (un aumento de 431%).

COSTO ESTIMADO DE PROGRAMACIÓN DENTRO DE COVID

  • iPads: $250 X 60 = $15,000
  • Auriculares: $25 X 60 = $1,500
  • Toallitas Desinfectantes: $60/m X 10 meses = $600
  • Desinfectante para Manos: $150/m X 10 meses= $1,500

COSTO TOTAL: $18,600

Además del aumento de los costos operativos, anticipamos un déficit de al menos $30,000 porque algunos de nuestros socios han sido afectados financieramente por COVID-19.

Durante este tiempo incierto, le pedimos que continúe apoyando el trabajo de Affinity Mentoring y otras organizaciones sin fines de lucro en nuestra comunidad.* Su apoyo es más importante que nunca.

* En este momento no estamos aceptando donaciones de dispositivos personales, sin embargo, considere donar a nuestro fondo general para apoyar directamente estas necesidades.

¿Preguntas o preocupaciones? Dirija sus preguntas a las siguientes personas:

  • Mentores, mentorizados o miembro de la familia que regresan: póngase en contacto directamente con la coordinadora de su sitio
  • Preguntas de los nuevos mentores: Rocio Moreno
  • Socios de la comunidad (donaciones en especie, apoyo financiero, etc.): Rachel Humphreys 
  • Preguntas generales sobre protocolos de COVID-19 y seguridad: Cassandra Kiger 

Gracias por su continuo apoyo y comprensión durante estos tiempos difíciles.

-Equipo de Affinity Mentoring

Recursos

Updated: July 8, 2020

Affinity Welcomes New Team Member

By Rachel Humphreys

We’re excited to share that we’ve added a new team member, Holly Hetherington! Holly will be filling Affinity’s newly developed role of Office Coordinator. She will assist the Executive Director and Development Director in their new headquarters in the Goei Center. This new role will help increase the teams’ capacity to serve more students in more schools.

Holly holds a Bachelor’s in English, Elementary Education from Grand Valley State University. With a desire to provide social emotional and hands-on learning opportunities for youth and children, she turned her efforts away from the traditional classroom and invested her career in out-of-school time programming. Her passion for equity is at the root of all her work. Holly is currently seeking a Master’s in Social Innovation at GVSU. In her free time she loves to play soccer, eat delicious food, and kayak.

Welcome, Holly!