about Hope

As featured in Burnsville Magazine

Doctors in the making?

The 2007 Hope For Tomorrow group toured Fairview Ridges Hospital to give the girls a feel for what type of medical careers are available.

A Match Made in ‘Hope’

A local mentoring program pairs successful women with teenage girls l By Susan Hegarty

    Most girls today don’t have time
to daydream about a fairy tale
life where their prince rescues
them from wicked stepsisters or a less-thanenchanting
    Right here in Burnsville, there are girls
struggling to rebuke taunts, sexual advances or invitations to engage in criminal activity. They might have to hurry home from school each day to care for younger siblings rather than building social and employment skills through
after-school activities.
    These girls don’t need Prince Charming;they need opportunities like Hope ForTomorrow, a mentorship program that matches 14- to 16-year-old girls with a caring woman who is willing to share her own transformation from adolescent to successful,

“It’s important for
them to build self
confidence to stay
strong in their beliefs
and morals.”
—Renae Pereira, mentor


confident adult. The girls are nominated by the school counselors and principals, and participate on a voluntary basis. The program began in Bloomington in 1996 and was adapted in 2005 for Nicollett Junior High School in Burnsville. The program expanded to include Metcalf Junior High School.

    “These are the ones that can sometimes
fall through the cracks. They’re not at high
risk but it’s a formative time,” says Teresa
Daly, a founding mentor and managing
partner of Navigate Forward, an executive
transition service.
    The girls meet for three hours each month,
October through May, with their mentors at
their respective schools. Topics include peer
pressure, healthy body image, first impressions,
college and career options.
    One popular component is a journal passed
back and forth between each mentor and mentee.
They can write about anything. Mentors
write inspirational quotes, offer advice or share
stories from their own teenage years.
    “Journaling is a way for us to get a glimpse
into their thoughts and what’s going on in their

B U R N S V I L L E M A G A Z I N E Reprinted with permission of the publisher. ©2008 Metropolitan Media Group, Inc., all rights reserved.
Any reproduction of this document is strictly prohibited. For reprints call 952-767-2600.

life,” says mentor Renae Pereira of the
Dakota County Workforce Services.
“It’s another chance to bond and an
outlet for the girls. They know they
can do it in private.”
    The mentors and mentees take
two field trips each year: one to a
college and one to a business. Nicollet
Mentee Allie Henderson, 15, was
surprised by what she saw in this
year’s workplace visit to the Best Buy
corporate campus. “I didn’t know
that working could be fun,” she says.
    Prior to becoming involved in
the program, Hodan Jama, 15, of
Burnsville hadn’t given college a
thought. Now, she dreams of becoming
a doctor and opening a school in
her native Africa.
    Pereira has been a mentor for
the past two years. “It’s just such
a rewarding experience,” she says.
Pereira has two high school–age sons
but says the challenges facing girls are

different: “It’s important for them to
build self confidence to stay strong in
their beliefs and morals.”
    Darlene Miller, a founding mentor
and president of Permac Industries
in Burnsville, is now working to
organize a boy’s chapter with male
mentors and an electronic version
of the program to share with other
schools. Plus, she’s starting a Hope
For Tomorrow Web site and helping
expand the program to White Bear
Lake and Eden Prairie. “I truly love
this program,” Miller says.
    After a recent field trip, the girls
and their mentors were asked: If you
could do anything in the world and
money was no object, what would it
be? For Miller, the answer was easy.
“I’d go around the world setting up
Hope For Tomorrow.”

Susan Hegarty is a freelance writer for
Burnsville Magazine.

Beautiful Bellies > At the last hope for tomorrow session

of the schoolyear in 2008, the girls (and mentors) got a
belly dancy lesson.

Helping ‘Hope’
If you or someone you know might be interested in getting
involved with Hope For Tomorrow, contact Darlene
Miller at 952.746.0280 or dmiller@permacindustries.com.

Caring adults needed to help students hope

By True Grimes

Eighth-graders will usually have at least one adult in their family. Maybe even two.

But when an adult outside of their family takes the time to be a mentor to them, that is pretty powerful stuff, says Central Middle School counselor Stephanie Bender.

That’s why the “Hope for Tomorrow” mentor program is in need of Eden Prairie women to step up as mentors at the middle school at 8025 School Road.

“It’s a minor commitment of only one morning per month and the girls really appreciate having another woman in their lives,” said local “Hope for Tomorrow” co-founder, Diane Nettifee. “Last year we had to turn girls away.”

Nettifee and Geri Martin started the ‘Hope’ chapter at CMS in 2008. Just one year earlier, Nettifee, the president of Magis Ventures Inc., got involved in the Burnsville chapter.

Its mission is to work with young people before they leave for high school.

“That can be a particular difficult time to transition,” said Martin, who’s had two kids go through CMS. “You go from being the oldest kid to the youngest kid in the school.”

It helps young people think about what they want for their future, adds Martin, a healthcare marketing consultant.

Nettifee remembered her junior high gymnastics coach, saying, “Her presence in my life made such a difference because she believed in me.”

The ‘Hope’ sessions start with get-acquainted exercises. The girls get to know peers they may not have known before. There’s group time with discussions. Each session has a theme.

For example, the high school drama group did skits about peer pressure. There was a gathering on body, mind and spirit and caring well for oneself at all levels. A guest speaker came in then to do yoga and kickboxing.

Other topics ranged from first impressions and how to present oneself to etiquette, dreams and goals. The field trips got the mentees to think beyond high school. The group toured Quality Bike Products in West Bloomington. When they went to the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, it was the first time some students had even set foot on a college campus, Martin said.

The counselors work with the teachers to decide which kids get to be a part of ‘Hope.’ It’s an honor. Bender says the one-on-one interaction helps students see why all of this school stuff is really important right now. And it helps get them to that next step where they can be the best they can be.

Eighth-grader Sasha Warbritton loved the mentor program because she learned life skills she knows she’ll need someday.

“I always just assumed that everything that I learned in school would be everything I needed to know,” she said. “I’d like to say if your counselor invites you to do it, then go for it. Because, it was one of the best opportunities that I’ve had through my school.”

‘Hope’ helped eighth-grader Taylor Wickland map out milestones and things she needed to do to get to where she wants to be. Wickland, a hockey player who has been training for the Olympics for five years, plans to go into psychology and forensics.

She especially liked getting class breaks from lectures and note taking. Wickland adds it was nice to meet successful women who had achieved their goals and to learn from their feedback and hardships.

“Obviously, we hear our parents tell us, but it was great to get another influence in there that also supported us,” she said.

So, for the variety of volunteers – moms, professionals, retirees – who want to do something in someone’s life, mentoring is a wonderful way to do it without putting in tons of hours, Nettifee says.

“It’s one of those relationships that gives back both ways,” adds Bender, who is in her 12th year at CMS. “The mentors get a ton out of it and the girls get a ton out of it as well.”

How you can help

Starting in October, be a ‘Hope’ mentor to an eighth-grade girl at Central Middle School for just one morning each month, from around 8:45 to 11:30 a.m. Those who are interested in giving back some time and remember the struggles at that age can contact Diane Nettifee at dnettifee@magisventures.com and 952-393-7127, and Geri Martin at martinsgne@aol.com and 612-396-8622. More background and details at www.HopeForTomorrowMentoring.org.

I am a unique person with my own special talents, interests and dreams.
My journey is my own. Where I have been and where I want to go.
I am responsible for how I travel the road I am on, the choices I make and the paths I take.
My journey is what I make of it!

Source: www.HopeforTomorrowMentoring.org