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Friday, 2/27: Mentor One Child. Change Two Lives.

The 2013–14 SOHO contingent.
The 2013–14 SOHO contingent.

“I had lots of mentors in my life without whom I don’t know where I would be.”

Can you think of the mentors in your life that helped you become who you are today? You can pay that feeling forward and be an important part of a young person’s life. It all starts with attending an info session to see if Space of Her Own is right for you.

Space of Her Own (SOHO) is a mentoring program for at-risk girls in Alexandria, with art and life skills forming the foundation of the program. To find out more about how to mentor, read on.

SOHO Old Town is holding an info session for mentors on Friday, February 27, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in The Art League’s Madison Annex at 305 Madison Street. We need adult women to be mentors for the 2015/16 school year! Please RSVP to charleneh@theartleague.org.

Taryn Wilkinson, quoted above, is just one of the SOHO mentors in the Old Town program this year. She found the mentorship listed on idealist.org. Having heard about the program already because of the SOHO photography exhibit, Taryn signed up.

SOHO participants 2012-13
Making aprons in the 2012/13 school year.

Since then, it’s become a part of the week for Taryn to look forward to. “It’s taken me by surprise,” she said.

SOHO Old Town meets every Tuesday. When Taryn and the other mentors arrive, the girls are finishing up a life skills lesson. They talk about the lesson and have dinner together, followed by that week’s art project.

Art is a central component of SOHO, with an eye toward the ultimate goal from which the program gets its name: Space of Her Own. In April, the year’s program culminates with a room renovation to transform the girls’ bedrooms into a beautiful, personal space. Projects like mosaic mirrors, lampshades, and the big photography project make that space unique.

The artistic angle of SOHO is part of what made mentoring a good fit for Taryn, an art enthusiast from an arts-oriented family. With a background in painting, drawing, and music, she finds the weekly art projects not only keep things interesting, but pushes each mentee-mentor pair toward a new accomplishment each time they meet. That’s especially important for girls who don’t have time or supplies for art at home or school.

All the paints for this year's room renovations!
All the paints for this year’s room renovations!

This SOHO year got started in early fall. For mentors, it began with mentor-only meetings to learn about what to expect. The first few meetings take place before mentors are paired with mentees on Match Night, after which they continue building a relationship with weekly meetings and other outings. Part of the program is driving the girls home at the end of the night to build a relationship with her family, too.

Right now is the most exciting time of the year, Taryn said. They’re doing more outings and get-togethers, like a cookie decorating night, and getting ready for those room renovations in April.

The 2013/14 SOHO class making their photographs.
The 2013/14 SOHO class making their photographs.

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