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July 12, 2024

Mentors sought for Girls Inc program

CENTRAL COAST — Volunteer women mentors are currently needed to work with high school girls in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties through the Girls Inc. of the Central Coast’s ECHO Leadership and Mentoring Program.

This one-year program, which targets girls in the 10th and 11th grades, meets in the evenings from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at nine local high schools, including Alisal, Salinas, Monterey, North County, Soledad, Greenfield, King City, Pajaro and San Benito. The program encourages girls to pursue post-secondary education and plan for future careers.

According to Girls Inc., the evening sessions are designed to inspire girls to value themselves, to develop an action plan to achieve their goals and dreams and to begin perceiving themselves as leaders.

Anita McKean, a 10-year volunteer with the ECHO program in King City, at first thought she would only have to provide meals and deliver a specific curriculum to help the girls formulate their plan for the future. She soon learned that her role as an adult mentor would be much more.

“I would be a role model and a guide to the student leaders as well as the participants. It was a big responsibility,” McKean said. “The result was and is that I get so much more out of the program than I give. As an adult mentor, I have seen such incredible growth and maturity in the ECHO participants every year.”

Another volunteer, Jamila Saqqa, was amazed by the mentoring program’s positive impact not only on high school girls, but on her life as well. She said Girls Inc. has lifted her spirits and helped bring focus to her life.

“Throughout the program I have witnessed countless positive transformations. In particular, it is amazing to see the growth in the confidence in our participants and friendships form in front of my eyes,” said Saqqa, who mentors at San Benito High School. “At the start of the program, some participants did not look forward to speaking in front of the class. Yet now when we ask for volunteers to speak, hands spike to the ceiling and the girls are eager to share their thoughts.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Girls Inc. Deputy Director Elizabeth Contreras at 831-772-0882 or email [email protected]. For more information, visit the website