Meet Our Better Together Panelists!
Get a sneak peek of the mentors and students that will be sharing their experiences, stories, and favorite memories for Better Together Virtual! Watch our livestream video on Facebook [no account necessary] on April 29th at 6pm to experience Affinity and hear their full stories! For more information about the event visit: affinitymentoring.org/bettertogether/
Kortlyn Shoemaker is the Early Childhood Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church where she oversees programming for all children 6 years old and under. Kortlyn and her dog Sir Winston moved to Grand Rapids 3 years ago from New York City. In addition to overseeing programs for young children, she also volunteers her time leading the Student Leadership Team for Mars Hill’s high school students, is a Bible study leader and a student at Mars Hill’s Formation School. In her free time, Kortlyn enjoys painting landscapes and abstract art, learning Italian, reading, frequenting many of Grand Rapids restaurants and cafes and traveling abroad.
Yoselyn is 10 years old and in the 4th grade. Her favorite subject at school is Art. When she is not at school Yoselyn enjoys reading Junie B. Jones books, drawing and coloring, playing with her baby cousin and doing her dolls’ hair. Yoselyn lives in Grand Rapids with her mom, Suzy, and brother, Saul, who is also in the mentoring program. When Yoselyn grows up she wants to be a teacher.
Kortlyn and Yoselyn have been a match for three years and absolutely love spending time together. They have many things in common including their creativity, love of glitter, reading, laughing and their silly sense of humor.
Mitch Shooks is self-employed. He founded the GRIP Center, a private personal training gym in cascade in 2014, and has a team of 4 trainers. Mitch earned a degree in Exercise Science from Dordt College and he enjoys outdoor activities like biking, hiking and hunting. Mitch is a self-proclaimed “barely sane father” of 4 girls. He adds that his wife of 20 years is his anchor when dealing with his daughters
Saul is an energetic guy with a love for all things sports and fast cars. He loves jokes and finding humor in all places. He’s a very thoughtful young man and often brings Mitch small crafts he has made for him. They have been a match for 3 years.
Karina Zarate is an engineer for C2AE, she works in an integrated team to design various systems for public infrastructure, health care, education and manufacturing facilities. One of her projects is the new high school for Southwest Community Campus [SWCC]. Karina studied Architectural engineering, with an emphasis on electrical systems, in her hometown at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She was recruited to Grand Rapids in 2013 and have become very connected since. Karina has a passion for her community, and often volunteers for opportunities to promote STEM to youth through the lens of interaction with the built environment. Because of the intersection of community and the built environment, she serves on the board of Family Promise, which helps families with children who are in housing crises. She is a member of the Latina Network, a coordinator of the Grand Rapids’ Project Pipeline Architecture Camp and serves as the Treasurer for EquityPAC. She became a mentor for Affinity this school year.
Liliana is formerly a student at Cesar Chavez Elementary, she is now a 4th grader in her first year at SWCC. The pair recently celebrated her 10th birthday over one of their weekly lunches. As a middle child, she plays the role of little sister and of a caring older sister. She is sweet, imaginative, and energetic. When they meet, Liliana enjoys sharing snacks, drawing, basketball, playing board games, practicing her English, and sharpening her math skills. There is never a dull moment with Liliana, because she can easily sneak in a game of rock paper scissors and hide and seek on the way to the lunch room or while waiting in the lunch line.
Angel Barreto-Cruz is a Membership Specialist at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Co-Founder of Loop Coding Center, and a student at Grand Valley State University. Angel is a proud GRPS graduate, in fact he attended Southwest Community Campus as a child! Angel is very active in the community – he is a member of the West Michigan Latino Network, board member for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids, and participant in the LEADERES leadership lab for Latinx professionals by Ferris State University.
Dylan is a very outgoing and thoughtful 4th grader. He loves to play board games and play outside. Together, he and Angel play battleship, read together, and practice English.
Maura Lamoreaux is thrilled to be in her fifth year of mentoring with Affinity! Currently the communications manager for the Kent County Road Commission, Maura previously served as communications officer for the Yonkers Public Schools, the fourth largest school district in the State of New York. Maura received a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in Corporate Communication from Baruch College of the City University of New York. She also attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and currently sings with the rock band, Signal Trip. Maura and her husband, Jason, are the proud parents of daughter, Shea.
Analia is an outgoing 4th grader at Southwest Community Campus. This is her first year in the mentoring program and likes learning new games with Maura. Analia is working on building her confidence and practicing her English.
Teri is self-employed and works with the Red Cross. In addition, she is a wellness consultant, disability advocate, and diversity and inclusion presenter. She loves to be active and get outdoors, especially hiking and paddle-boarding. She and her husband have two children. Eleven years ago she became Lizbeth’s mentor – Lizbeth was just five years old and in the first grade!
Lizbeth is the oldest child in her family and has two younger sisters. Perhaps this is the reason for her maturity and helpful nature. She is very giving and loves to see those around her smiling. She has a very artistic side and is a very gifted musician and has a beautiful voice! Liz is a great dancer and has done performances with her friends. She also has a fun and sweet personality and a wonderful sense of maturity. Navigating through high school can be daunting, but Liz is persevering and her teachers all adore her. Her faith is vital in her life and she leans of God for direction and purpose when she’s feeling down. Liz has a good head on her shoulders and lots of love in her heart. She makes the world a better place for those that love and know her!
“Lizbeth and I met at Burton elementary on our first day of mentoring. She was a bright eyed five year old first grader and although my Spanish was non-existent, we did a lot of smiling and pointing at pictures to communicate that day. Fast forward 11 years and it’s like we’ve always known one another. Our families bonded and so have our hearts. We’ve done a lot of life together like holidays, birthday’s, special outings, cookie baking and beach hikes. I appreciate her more than words can say. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes busyness gets in the way, but at the end of the day I am very thankful for our special connection that can never be broken.” – Teri
Join Us Live!
Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 Tune In: [Facebook Livestream] begins at 6pm [Facebook account is not required]Location: Your home computer or cell phone Cost: Free to participate [we are accepting sponsorships and donations]
Every year, Better Together raises over $40,000 in vital support for our students. Please join us for Better Together Virtual to hear how your support is helping us serve students and their families during this crisis and throughout the year.
Ready to make your commitment now? Donate now.