Arrowhead Women United Offers Resources for Youth
By Dianne Anderson
Coming out of COVID-19 and into the next school year, the challenge for a lot of students will be staying focused, finishing up their academic goals, refining basic life skills, and trying to make sense of what comes next.
Arrowhead United Way’s Women United is getting them there in style.
Pamela Montana, chair of Women United, and educational liaison for the County of San Bernardino, said throughout the pandemic, they have continued to guide students through high school, college and beyond.
On Saturday, July 17, several high-powered local professional women are inviting young ladies age 16-24 to participate in their “Interview for Success” where they can learn how to get a job, polish up their resumes, and dress for success. The event, which requires registration, runs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Currently, the group mentors teens from Middle College High School. Through the past year, volunteers have promoted a variety of creative outreach efforts to keep the girls moving toward their academic and personal goals.
“We had to figure out a way to connect,” she said. “Most of our girls are African American or Hispanic, they don’t have the resources and their parents want to be able to help but they don’t know how to navigate. That’s where we come in.”
Over the past year, they have held professional workshops on how to apply for college, fill out applications, and how to hunt for grants and scholarships.
Although they couldn’t host in-person workshops due to COVID, Montana said they have managed to keep close tabs on student achievement, and inspire the girls to keep pushing forward.
“Each mentee had a mentor. They could always reach out even if it wasn’t school-related because they were isolated, they were away from their schools, their friends,” she said.
The women work with the youth at Middle College High School, which sits across the street from San Bernardino Valley College and serves students between 2.5 and 3.5 GPA. There, they have an opportunity to earn their high school diploma while racking up credits toward their associate degree at the same time.
Montana said in the past, Women United had a volunteer at Arroyo Valley High School, who has since transferred to Middle College High School.
That left a vacancy. She is still hoping for a mentor to step up to carry on the good work. It is a serious commitment. Mentors are trained and must devote at least one year to the program. It can include in-person, sometimes Zoom, text or email.
Coming up, an intern from Cal State University, San Bernardino will help students with their resumes, how to apply for a job, and the importance of keeping social media clean and professional.
Before COVID, the program treated workshop participants to annual shopping sprees at Ross, but this year, they hosted a barbeque for the girls and their families. Each of the young ladies received a $500 scholarship and an iPad.
Gwen Rodgers, Arrowhead United Way President and CEO, said their programs reach the entire community in many ways, often without a lot of fanfare.
It’s always been a big dream of hers to work with the young women of Time for Change Foundation, and she was thrilled to help during the tough times of the pandemic.
Women’s United, an affinity group to Arrowhead United Way, was able to donate supplies and laptops to the young ladies there. As importantly, they offered one on one mentoring.
“We knew it was important to connect with the girls and were able to pull it off. I am so grateful for the work that is continuously being done. The girls have the final end of the year event. We had the valedictorians and doing some amazing things,” she said.
Volunteers come together as a collective, acting as role models by spotlighting their particular professional fields for the girls. Mentors from different walks of life give time and talent in their areas of expertise.
“They’re educators, they’re women in banking, and women working in the county. Women United is open to women who have a passion to work with young women,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s noble of them because this is working women, some are retired.”
For women who want to join in and help, she said it promises to be a great and rewarding experience.
To learn more about Arrowhead Programs, see https://www.arrowheadunitedway.org/
To register for the Women United Interview for Success, see www.bit.ly-wu-registration
To learn more about Middle College High School https://www.sbcusd.com/student_resources/linked_learning/middle_college_high_school