Daily Archives: April 22, 2009

The story of Keisha – be a mentor!

I met Keisha in 2005.  She was part of a Circle held at the Juvenile & Family Justice Center or more commonly known as “detention center”.

My co-worker and I exchanged leading Circles on Fridays.  Sometimes we had 6 girls and sometimes we had 24.  We picked a good time by chance, starting at 11 and lunch is served at 12:30 so it was just a natural time transistion.  The Circles seemed to always go pretty well.  I loved doing them.  So much, I used to volunteer and do them in a juvenile detention center near my home.  Just for fun.  I got really busy and wasn’t able to keep that committment.

Keisha – she was going to be a rap star.  She said she was going to “bust out”.  The first “Circle” she sat so sideways in her chair, I had a new definition of “resistance”.  She said “Y’all seem, like perfectly nice people”  with dismissive wave of her hand “I gotta be here, but I don’t gotta talk”.  I have a real weak spot (meaning I have to “win over”) the toughest kid in a group.  I love the ones that are just a little more of a risk taker.  The ones that have the biggest chip.  Keisha’s negative attitude was my favorite battleground.  The kid acting the worse, needs me the most.  I played that game in the past myself, pushing away people you need.  I didn’t know then that what I was doing was helping myself by helping her.

I took interest in Keisha.  But she had to work thru something else.  She would tell me I was white and she was black.  It became sort of a routine answer when our conversation went that one degree warmer than the surface.  Finally I used some humor.  I asked her if she really thought that I didn’t know that I was white and she was black.  She laughed so hard, the rest of the Circle laughed.  Those were fun times co-facilitating the Girls Circle.  The program has grown to Radius, check that out here.

The requirement for Keisha ended, yet I stayed part of her life, as a mentor.  I attended the family celebration for her high school graduation.  I was at her graduation for her Associates Degree – and one year after that, we were part of a panel for St. Thomas Law School.

Being Keisha’s mentor has been a joy and a reward.  When you give of yourself it’s meaningful.  She knows I don’t get paid, it means something to her.  We don’t see each other alot but we aren’t ever ‘out of touch’.  I’ve been a resource when she’s needed to write papers for school and we are in contact around holidays.  She’s on her way to be a social worker or juvenile justice staff to help others the way she has been helped.

Keisha and I at the St. Thomas program:

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Filed under Kris Miner, Relationships