The Nehemiah Project Opens Growing Minds Mentoring Center to Help Improve Lives of At-Risk Children

In an effort to positively impact more young people in the area, the non-profit organization Nehemiah Project will launch a new mentorship program in downtown Albemarle this month.

Growing Minds Mentoring will target at-risk students ages 8 to 12 primarily from Central Elementary before expanding to include students from other parts of the county. Contacts have been made with principals, school counselors and Albemarle’s director of public housing, Dr. Kim Scott, to ensure that Nehemiah will target students who will benefit most from the program.

“The goal of Growing Minds is that if we pour into these children, much like a plant, and they get the right nutrients, the right nutrition, the love and care, they will become what they were born to be. created,” said Paul. Peters, executive director and founder of Nehemiah Project.

Growing Minds, which will be free to the public, is in a facility owned by Central United Methodist Church at 108 E. North St., Albemarle, and will be led by Mentor Director Chase Jordan and Nehemiah Director Tony Peek . community initiatives, in addition to Peters. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday starting this summer and will continue until the next school year. He estimates that around 20 to 30 children will be part of the first phase of the program.

“I think this is a great opportunity for our kids,” Superintendent Jarrod Dennis said, noting it will help with learning loss issues, especially during the summer.

The grand opening of the new Growing Minds Mentoring Center in downtown Albemarle took place in late May. Photo courtesy of Christopher Keith.

Nehemiah is trying to raise $50,000 for the mentorship program. If people want to help, he said they can sponsor a child for $100 a week or $700 for the entire summer program.

Growing Minds will incorporate elements of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum as well as enrichment activities, guest speakers, and field trips. There will also be volunteer opportunities for students to go out into the community and help make a difference.

“We’re trying to teach these kids that it’s important to give back and that it’s important to volunteer,” said Brandi Jordan, board member of the Nehemiah Project, who worked with Peters to launch the program. “In turn, you will raise a new generation that will understand what it means to volunteer and why we should volunteer.

Peters hopes to partner with local high schools to inspire older students to want to serve as mentors for the program.

Growing Minds wants to connect with children from an early age and then continue to mentor them through their careers from K-12, even helping them get into college or find a job once graduates.

“We want to start now with these kids, give them a vision of what their future will look like, and then connect them with the right people to help them get there,” Peters said.

The Nehemiah Project, founded by Peters in 2019, seeks to serve people in six categories: the homeless, those with addictions, veterans, at-risk teens and survivors of domestic violence, the elderly and people with mental health problems.

The new program is an extension of Nehemiah’s ongoing Lunch Buddy program that began before the COVID-19 pandemic and involves a group of volunteers having weekly lunches with more than 20 students each at Central and East Elementary Schools. East.

“I feel like there is a huge need in our community for mentors and strong personalities to support our school children,” said school board member Carla Poplin, who also sits on the Nehemiah board and is volunteered as a lunch buddy. “So when Paul pitched the idea to us, I was obviously excited about my position on the school board and knowing the great post-Covid need due to learning loss that we’re trying to make up for.”

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