Tracee & Imani

Sometimes you’re fortunate enough to know your purpose in life early in the game.  I have long since known that one of my main reasons for being on this planet is to make the lives of young people better.  Nine years ago I was able to realize that purpose by becoming a mentor.  My mentee, Imani, was the cutest little thing.  She was full of life and smart as a whip.  Then she hit the tumultuous teen years and also hit a wall.  I hit a big fat wall right along with her and began to doubt myself as a mentor.  Her teen drama seemed to go on for years and years.  Was I a complete failure?

I prayed for answers and a way to continue my mission.  I was really at my wits end and close to throwing in the towel. But since I’m no quitter that really wasn’t an option; I was just being a drama queen.  This past July I was approached to join the leadership committee for our church’s youth ministry.  Hmm?  Could this be the answers that I was looking for?

Though it’s been challenging as I’ve found that Imani isn’t the only teen to run into a brick barrier (is everyone between the ages of 13 & 18 possessed?!), it’s been rewarding.  Imani has actually joined in on many of the activities and I’m happy to report that she is slowly climbing over that wall and doing really well.  Of course, she still has many more obstacles to overcome. But I’m hopeful for her future; I will hold steadfast to the faith that she will transition into adulthood remarkably and make great contributions to this society.

Along with my Youth Leaders of Emmanuel (YLE) team members, I’ve taken the teens to two Broadway plays, The Mountaintop and Stick Fly, both AWESOME works.  We’ve implemented many programs such as SAT prep, tutoring, and my pet project Read & Flow, a book club for the new millennium. We’ve also revamped the flagship program Teen Canteen.

The great thing about doing this kind of work is meeting people with like minds and visions.  I crossed paths with a super gifted Visual Artist Beau who generously devoted his time to create an incredible backdrop painting for Teen Canteen REMASTERED. The finished product (see below) is radically fabulous™ and he worked his magic less than 24 hours!

YLE has many amazing things on the horizon for the youth. I’m super excited!  Stay tuned for more updates. 2012 is going to be a great year for mentoring and inspiring our future leaders, thinkers, and doers!

We have been to "The Mountaintop" & it was good!


An evening at the theatre – Stick Fly

Girls Night Out - We loved Stick Fly!

Teen Canteen REMASTERED painting by Beau


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3 responses to “Epiphany

  1. Aish

    OMG.. Imani!!! It’s been a while.Wow, I still remember her as a little girl. Thanks for the update, and you are definitely a great mentor to the lil ones!

    And by the way, it’s not just the teen years, it’s also the early adult transition years (18-23) that is really a trip for young, AA. I talked to a few of my friends with relatives/friends and they are having similar experiences with that age group.

    Looking forward to hearing more of your tips and tricks to get over the wall.

  2. onturningforty

    Wonderful work with the girls. I see that they have the posing techniques down. LOL! I’m sure they’re learning from you and the seeds you planted will bring forth great fruit.

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