At Give Back, mentors really make the difference. Elaine Connelly, one of our volunteer mentors at the Osborne Association, can attest to the power of mentoring. Elaine is a mother of three teenage children with a previous career in finance at a large teaching hospital in New York City. She has also worked in managed care for a large insurance company. Elaine got involved with the Osborne Association in 2009 through St. James Church in East Manhattan. The parish has actively partnered with the Osborne Association since 2005 to provide volunteers and funding for various Osborne programs. Elaine has recently become more involved with the college-bound Osborne youth since Give Back chose two of its students to be the first New York scholars. This year, Elaine is mentoring a sophomore and a junior student who are part of the Give Back program.  When asked about the importance of mentoring students through high school on their way to college, she highlighted both the challenges and rewards of her work at Osborne.

“The Osborne youth face many challenges. Osborne children do not have their parents at home to help with the day-to-day work of trying to get into college. For some of these children, they are the first members of their family to even attend college. Many children are being raised by grandparents who are having a hard time just providing the basic needs like food, clothes, housing.”

Continuing their education past high school provides students with a brighter career and life path after college. For many of these children, their parents will be incarcerated most of their childhoods and sometimes into their adult lives. They live with the shame and stigma of having an incarcerated parent, but they can find a lot of pride in attending college. We thank volunteers like Elaine who help Give Back provide better opportunities for children around the country.

“Osborne helps children meet up with other children who are facing similar situations and obstacles,” Elaine explained. “That community is very important and has to be intentionally created and maintained. Giving back to the community through Osborne has made me think differently about how society can take care of a group of its most vulnerable children. I often say that I get much more from being involved than I give to the program.”