MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For nearly 20 years now, Thema Campbell has been on a mission as the President and CEO of Girl Power to improve the world — one girl at a time
“I was reading the research about how children who are mentored are 55-percent more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, not use drugs and not become a teenage parent. Mentoring plays a big part in all this,” said Campbell.
On this night, Campbell and her team host a mentor appreciation night at Lulu’s Nitrogen Ice Cream Shop in Downtown Miami.
Campbell is hoping to recruit mentors like Ellen B. Woods who have connected with a young girl and made a world of difference in their lives.
“I didn’t know it was something that we are supposed to do and that’s how I always looked at it. She could be my daughter. So, I told her ‘Let’s go hang out. Let me show you something new’ and in turn I learned things from her as well,” said Woods.
Woods is describing her relationship with her mentee, Edline Demajuste. They met eight years ago. Edline was 14-years-old and headed down a dangerous path.
“When I first met her she used to be a fighter out in the street and I was like what are you out fighting in the street for? And she tells me, ‘I ain’t no punk Miss Ellen’,” Woods remembers.
Edline who is now 24 years old also remembers those times vividly.
“I always loved to fight that was my biggest weakness and then one day she told me those are like crabs in a bucket clawing you down. Ellen could’ve said I’m going to give up on her. She’s never going to be anything. She’s never going to make it. She saw the light in me. She saw positive in me. I was a little seed that needed to be planted to grow into a flower, so that’s what she saw in me,” said Demajuste.
Over the years, Ellen, along with the team at Girl Power, gave Edline the confidence and pride to believe in herself.
“Looking people in the eye and smiling that was the biggest challenge. I met the Mayor of Miami Beach, so many people and having eye contact that changed my perspective and I used to never be like that. If it wasn’t for that program. I would probably be in the streets doing my way again because I didn’t see me becoming anything,” said Demajuste.
Edline is now attending college and engaged to get married later this year and she tells CBS4 News that all those years of mentoring are helping her give back as well.
“I’m becoming a little mentor myself and then I realize, whoa Miss Ellen did this for me, Wow! And I’ve learned through them how to be a mentor to other girls in my church also,” said Demajuste. She explains that young girls at the church come to her all the time with their problems and one by one she shares with them her story in hopes of giving them hope and confidence.
Back at Lulu’s, the call for future mentors is sweet and powerful.
“As mentors, we are supposed to tap into who they are and let them see who they are. She’s just a wonderful young lady. A wonderful person. A Christian and just has great values and I was glad to be a part of her life. So be a mentor, be a mentor.”
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By Caridad Hernandez Wood