When asked why I mentor children, for me the answer is simple - It's a calling, so how can I not?
At an early age, my parents put my siblings and I in several different activities to expose us to new people, different cultures, and family lifestyles. For me, being active and involved made all the difference. Organizations like the Girls Scouts, Black Achievers, church choir, and many other youth groups shaped who I became, gave me purpose, fostered in me a love for being with and helping others, taught me commitment to others, and gave me personal fulfillment. It is my strong desire to share that with the kids I mentor.
Today many children simply do not have purpose. They sit at home unfulfilled and bored because many parents today do not understand the importance of social and educational enrichment and for their child to be a part of something. They do not get the role this plays in teaching compassion, as well as getting their kids into college and on the path to a successful future.
It takes a "village" to raise children these days and to get them to the point that they can be successful. I had a village early on surrounding me due to all the people who were leaders in the organizations I took part in, and the many people my parents invited into my life to have an impact on it. My village continues to grow, and I am made better each day because of them. My belief is that children need purpose, a reason to get up in the morning, something to look forward to in order to have peace, success, compassion, individualism and motivation. I want to help children find their purpose, to encourage them and to be a part of their village.
Although helping kids has its challenges, it is most satisfying to know that I am doing my part for the youth of our community. The true satisfaction comes when a teen exceeds what they thought they were capable of and tells me that they now have goals for their future when before they did not. I mentor a young girl from an African family with nine other children. In that family, the focus is on feeding the family, and getting the daughters married, not enriching or teaching independence. One day this young lady asked me, "can you make my dreams come true?"
I said to her, "I am no dream maker, but I can certainly help you reach whatever goal you set, and give you tools to fulfill your dreams." Her dream was to go to college, even though her parents were not encouraging that. Well, she did go to college, and is working and being independent. The success of all the kids I mentor is a blessing and gives me joy, and it is a blessing for them to have someone who cares enough to push them.
It is all our responsibility to move, motivate and encourage children, or else the gifts they have to contribute to their community go unrealized. So, I encourage everyone to grab a child and mentor them. The village that surrounds me is large, and I am successful and enriched because of it. Each child deserves a village surrounding them, and it starts with that one single mentor!
Celebrate National Mentoring Month this January by volunteering to read, tutor or mentor a youth in our community HERE.
Pashens was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and graduated from Central High School's Law and Government Magnet Program in 1993. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of Kentucky and Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan. As an attorney, her work focuses on family law, estate planning/probate, criminal and civil litigation, and serving as a Guardian Ad Litem (attorney for children). Prior to becoming a Solo Practitioner, she was a full time pro bono attorney for the Legal Aid Society until 2012, where she served as a lead attorney in the Volunteer Lawyer Program unit and helped manage the Expungement Unit. After working with Legal Aid, she joined Strause Law Group in Middletown, until she started her own practice in 2013. She has worked with neglected, abused, and troubled children for over 12 years in various nonprofit and residential group home programs and currently mentors seven children through the YMCA's Black Achievers Program, Cultivating the Youth Experience, Inc, and with several other organizations. She is also very active in the legal community and sits on boards and committees, and works very hard to aid in the success of the Louisville community.