by Wendy Freundlich, Girls/Boyz First Mentoring
Marie Russ, a Worcester student, graduated from U-32 High School at the top of the class of 2016. Russ has been in the Girls/Boyz First Mentoring program for eight years and her mentor is Judy Copa. She has been accepted at UVM with a very generous scholarship. At age 10, when Russ entered into her mentoring relationship with Judy, she was a very shy, quiet kid who had just experienced the incredible loss and trauma of a fire which burned her home to the ground. As a 2016/17 first generation college student, Russ enthusiastically credits the support she’s received through Copa and the Girls/Boyz First Mentoring program as one of the critical factors in her success. “I think I can honestly say that she saved my life, for my mentor entered my life at a time when I was drowning in depression, and Judy was the antithesis of what I experienced at school … The fact that Judy was in my life was what changed my perspective on school and life and has made me who I am today.” – Marie Russ
Over the last eight years, Russ has blossomed into a confident, goal-oriented, articulate young woman. Throughout her high school career, she has been active in the U-32 Theater program, traveled to Scotland to participate in a U-32 Theater competition, participated in Branching Out working diligently with Laura McCaffrey, as her mentor in a year-long creative writing project, and was a highest honors high school senior. Russ has dreams of majoring in Library Science and pursuing her interest in creative writing. Mentoring is an important resource in our community, especially for those kids whose home situation is less than stable. Having a mentor can make a huge difference in their lives, as it certainly has in Russ’s. Russ comes from a very loving and supportive family but one with economic challenges. Girls/Boyz First Mentoring is organizing to send Russ off to college with a prepaid VISA gift card that she can use to help cover her first year of college living expenses such as school books, bedding, toiletries, clothing, smart phone and phone bill. All contributions will be gratefully accepted. Contributions can be made out to Washington Central Friends of Education, earmarked for Marie Russ and sent to: Wendy Freundlich, Girls/Boyz First Mentoring, 490 Center Rd, Middlesex, VT 05602. Thank you very much.