With the fourth annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala on the horizon, we look back at over a decade’s worth of work shaping the future of children in need.
by Latria Graham
It is almost 2 am when Simone’s cell phone rings—the electronic’s powerful vibrations break her slumber, and the blue light it emits rouses her. On the other end of the phone is Marchae, her mentee. A senior in high school, she has a lot going on—her family dynamic is changing, she’s trying to navigate college decisions, schoolwork just keeps getting more challenging, and her part-time job keeps demanding more of her energy. Sometimes it’s all too much, and when things get that way, the teenager calls her mentor. Marchae knows she can call Simone when she’s in trouble or just needs someone willing to listen to her side of the story.
Both natives of Chicago who had quite a bit in common, the pairing got off to a rocky start. When they were placed together, Marchae’s freshman year, she saw Simone as “just another teacher” and decided she had enough of those already. Simone admits it took time to earn Marchae’s trust but insists she saw something special in her mentee from day one: “She was easily distracted and didn’t want to be bothered. But I knew she had a lot of potential because she was a leader from the moment I met her. She was able to get the rest of the students to follow directions.”