Ariba Hussain, a Student Service Leader, helps a Lumberton 1st grader with her affirmation board. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young

By: Zachary C. Young, Editor-in-Chief

Brave Foundations Mentoring is an initiative where UNCP Student Service Leaders mentor Lumberton and Pembroke youth, ages 6 to 18. Braves Foundation Mentoring is housed under the Office for Civic and Community Engagement.

Student Service Leaders bring the children snacks, facilitate various life-skills activities, play games and help them with homework

Senior Kamren Lewis is a Student Service Leader that focuses on adult and youth life skills. Lewis oversees the Braves Foundations Mentoring program and has been a part of the program for three years.

Lewis was first introduced to the program while taking a service-learning class that taught middle schoolers life skills, such as learning healthy methods of communication and helping them increase their level of emotional intelligence.

Lewis said many of the youth that participate in the program do not have many positive role models.

“You never know how the kid’s day is going and being able to have a one-on-one conversation with the kid, knowing that when you were a kid you might not have someone to talk to after school,” Lewis said. “They remember your face; the kids remember your face once you’re there for them.”

On average, 15 youths attend the weekly mentoring sessions. Many come straight from the bus stop to interact with the UNCP mentors.

CCE Student Service Leaders mentor Pembroke youth on Mondays and Lumberton youth on Tuesdays.

Ariba Hussain, a sophomore, said this was her second time participating in the mentoring program and that she is still getting to know the children, but her experience is deepening her understanding that even children need someone to talk to.

Hussain is a Student Service Leader and said her favorite part of the experience is seeing the children happy. She hopes more students decide to become a mentor and help steer the children in a direction that will help them avoid negative behaviors, and ultimately put them on a successful trajectory in life.

“I believe we all have more time, skills and insight than we think. With the right training and people, anyone can learn to be a good mentor. So, I would say before saying “no” consider it first,” Hussain said.

CCE is currently offering volunteer mentor opportunities, as well as some paid positions as Student Service Leaders.

If you are interested in volunteering visit UNCP Serve. If interested in potentially working for CCE as a mentor, please contact Kamren Lewis at kjl022@bravemail.uncp.edu