From Kanawha County, East End Family Resource Center, Partners in Prevention:
Monique*, the daughter of a single father, was enrolled in the After School Program at the East End Family Resource Center. Once enrolled, Monique was assigned a mentor. The mentor, however, was not able to interact with her for nearly two weeks due to Monique being absent from school.
One day, the father brought Monique to her After School Program during the time the mentor was working. After a few minutes of speaking with Monique and her father, the mentor was sure Monique would be a pleasure to mentor and even noted, “Her smile lit up the room.”
During their visit, the father pulled the mentor aside and asked, “Do you know anyone who could do her hair? I can’t send her to school like that.” The father shared that Monique’s ongoing absences at school were related to her appearance. He feared he would be deemed “unfit” or his daughter bullied for her unstyled ethnic hair.
When the father returned to pick up Monique later that evening, he was seen crying by the staff of the After School Program. When he saw his daughter’s hair nicely braided and styled, he became emotional. The mentor had braided and styled Monique’s hair. She also shared that he could use the Charleston Beauty School in the future, free of charge, and connected him to “Tina” for ongoing hair appointments.
The mentor reported that after that day, Monique attended school regularly.
Each day children are guided by the decisions of their parents. Some parents may lack the resources to provide for their child as adequately as needed. Parents often do not seek help for fear of authorities and/or the lack of sensitivity of social service workers.
In this circumstance, when the father met his daughter’s mentor, he immediately felt as if he had an advocate. The mentor was not only able to provide the direct service but make an ongoing referral that the father could use at his discretion, at no cost. Due to the mentor’s help, the father was proud to send his daughter to school and her absences decreased tremendously.
*Names have been changed for reasons of privacy.