The last Dream Reachers gathering of the 2021 school year was an intimate family circle. TeacherMentors Sarah Dougherty and Shannon Petrina asked each student to do an overall check-in about how life is going for them and also tell the group one role model they have and why. Most of the young ladies spoke about their parents as the people they look up to, and each for different reasons.
“After that we got into a conversation about the increase in gun violence in our city,” said Sarah. “The girls spoke about how it affected them, either directly or indirectly. Most of the young ladies have been aware and have been careful not to put themselves into any situations they should not be in. Some ladies shared they are scared to leave the house and even hang around their friends and others shared they are too busy working and focusing on school to get caught in any trouble.”
Dream Reachers is one of Elevate Oregon’s two monthly gender-specific after-school groups. In alignment with our mission, the group takes advantage of Portland-area events and opportunities focused on career preparedness for girls. They also enjoy fun outings together, i.e., the Oregon Zoo Lights or a trip to the bowling alley. But our “family circle” times are special… the meetings deepen Elevate’s impact by directly supporting our students’ socio-emotional health and strengthening their peer groups’ bond.
“We let them know that they themselves can be role models for friends or other family members, even someone they may not know is watching them,” says Sarah. “I shared how proud we are that they are staying safe and that they can also help remind their friends to make smart decisions this summer as well.”
“We also extended reminders that both Shannon and I are here and available to hang out with this summer,” Sarah added.