Lee Ellen Kerr is the kind of person that wants to give back. So when we pitched our mentoring program to Lee and a small group of her colleagues at Dow Automotive, she jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
“I was excited, but I was also nervous,” said Lee. “I wasn’t sure I’d be a good mentor.”
That was in 2014. Three years later, Lee was honored by Winning Futures as the recipient of our 2017 Mentor of the Year award for her exemplary service and dedication. Now, in 2018, she’s getting a special recognition from an even higher authority.
Only a few days ago we learned that Lee was chosen to receive the prestigious 2018 Governor’s Service Award as Mentor of the Year from The Michigan Community Service Commission for her commitment to serving her communities through volunteerism.
“This year’s winners have inspiring stories. They have made a tremendous impact on the lives of others through their service,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “I am extremely grateful for the contributions they have made for Michigan and am honored to recognize their incredible accomplishments.”
Lee mentored at Pontiac Academy for Excellence where she helped more than 20 young women see a bright future and put together a strategic plan that will help them achieve success. One of her students, Angel, was at risk of dropping out. She noticed that Angel was naturally charismatic and a very good speaker, and suggested she pursue a career, like broadcasting, that would allow her to use her personality and voice.
“Angel just looked at me like, ‘Oh my God!’ You could see the lightbulb go off,” said Lee. “We were giving her positive attention when all she was getting elsewhere was negative. I said, ‘Forget all that. Let’s focus on the things you’re good at!’”
Lee worked with another Winning Futures mentor, Drew Gentry, to set up a four-hour job shadow for Angel at Flint radio station, WWCK – Supertalk 1570 AM. Angel watched a live broadcast of the show and met three of the hosts. She even donned a set of headphones and participated in an on-air discussion.
Today, Angel is on track to graduate from high school and earn a certificate through her school’s vocational education program. Her goal is to continue her education past high school and earn a degree in radio and broadcast journalism.
Over the four years Lee served as a Winning Futures mentor, two things became crystal clear. Not only does she have incredible passion for helping others, her fear that she wouldn’t be a good mentor was completely unfounded – she is a tremendous mentor!
“Lee is a good and loving mentor,” said Jayleen, another student Lee mentored. “She encourages us to do well, and is always reminding us that we can accomplish whatever our goals are. She has a very big heart. She’s a role model to me and I look up to her.”
Lee recently retired from Dow Automotive and will soon move north with her husband. Sadly, the distance is too far for her to continue in our mentoring program. While we will miss her passion and drive, her spirit and mentoring legacy will remain as a reminder of the importance of our work and as an example for others to follow.
You too can impact a young life. Sign up for our Shoot for Your Goals Basketball Camp with Greg Kelser provides one-time, one-hour mentoring opportunities. The camp will be held July 16-19, 2018, at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and teaches both on-court basketball skills and in-classroom leadership skills. We’re looking for local professionals who will volunteer one or more hours for the in-class sessions. Winning Futures provides all the content and runs the session so it’s easy for you to make a difference. All you have to do is sign up!