(Natalie Torentinos is FLOC’s Recruitment and Outreach Assistant. She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member.)
Two students in For Love of Children’s programs had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and get a big hug from First Lady Michelle Obama at the first National Mentoring Summit at The Library of Congress Jan. 25.
Michelle Obama delivered the keynote address at the summit and announced The Corporate Mentoring Challenge, an initiative led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to encourage U.S. companies to launch mentoring programs, expand existing employee mentoring programs or provide resources to support local ones.
The corporate community is being called to action to bring one million new mentors and tutors to community programs over the next three years. The following national corporations have already accepted the challenge: Comcast, AT&T, Viacom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Bank of America, Deloitte, Ritz-Carlton, Prudential, Travelers Insurance, IBM, State Farm, Jack in the Box, NIVEA, Great Wolf Resorts, American Eagle Outfitters, and HSBC Bank USA.
“This is a program calling on businesses of all sizes to allow their employees to mentor for short periods during the work day, giving kids positive role models and offering employees a way to give back,” said the First Lady.
“The idea that we have behind all these initiatives isn’t simply to create a series of one-time experiences for just a small number of kids. It’s about encouraging more caring adults to step up and make mentoring a part of their lives.”
The First Lady’s words and the summit’s purpose couldn’t have been better exemplified by its special guests.
Sitting on stage for the entire speech – just feet away from the First Lady, Cabinet Members Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan – was Anthony C., a fourth grader at Tubman Elementary and his FLOC tutor, Peter Hahn. Hahn is Vice President of National Engagement for United Way Worldwide, a founding partner of the Summit.
Former FLOC student Erica L. also attended, along with her first tutor, FLOC Executive Director Tim Payne. Erica is currently a sophomore at Montgomery College who has been connected to FLOC for the last 11 years.
“I never thought I’d have the chance to meet The First Lady face-to-face,” Erica said, adding that it was a special moment for her and Payne.
“Tim was my first tutor – I’ve known him and watched him grow, and he watched me grow too.”
“Who would have thought 11 years ago, some organization taking a shot on a young tutor and a special student would lead to opportunities like this? To see Erica and Anthony meet Michelle Obama was priceless,” wrote Payne.
The First Lady’s closing remarks at the summit encapsulate the experience of many FLOC tutors and their students, by saying that mentoring is “lend[ing] our experience and our wisdom in the hopes that it will give someone after us the strength to reach a little higher, and dream a little bigger.”
Thank you to Peter Hahn and the National Mentoring Partnership for giving FLOC this amazing opportunity! We look forward to working with you!