Local group promotes mentoring through MenTEEs

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published December 5, 2012

ROYAL OAK — Any single adult can have an instrumental impact on a child’s life, which is why one resident decided to start Empowered Flower Girl LLC.

A mentor with Alternatives for Girls since 2001, Royal Oak resident Rasheda Kamaria decided to start her own company in 2010 to provide resources for mentors and other groups looking to have a positive influence on local youths. A Detroit native who had a mentor of her own when she was younger, Kamaria said the experience helped shape who she is today.

“It definitely had an impact on my life,” said Kamaria, EFG’s chief empowering officer. “It helped with my confidence and realizing I had a greater purpose in life. Sometimes all it takes is checking in with a young person or going to the library or doing an activity. You don’t have to be a superhero.

“It’s our way of encouraging the next generation of mentors. If youths have positive mentors in their lives, they’ll want to give it back. It’s sort of like paying it forward.”

In an effort to raise funds, EFG will be holding its third annual National Mentoring Month campaign, MenTEEs: T-shirts for a Cause.  A play on words between those being mentored and T-shirts that will be sold through Feb. 20, 2013, EFG will donate 25 percent of profits from the shirt sales, and a matching amount, to a randomly selected EFG partner.

Kamaria said there were six partners last year and four the first year, but she expects all to return, as well as a few new ones, by the Dec. 21 deadline. She is currently looking for other groups to partner with EFG for the fundraiser.

“We try to provide them with resources,” Kamaria said. “It’s mostly about creating awareness. I did it just because I’m passionate about mentoring youth. We want to kind of build these partnerships with the community.”

Detroit-based partner Mentoring Youth Network was the randomly selected beneficiary of last year’s MenTEEs fundraiser, receiving funding toward their I’mpossible Suicide Awareness Conference, which took place Sept. 29.

“Because of what we do and what she do, we wanted to join forces,” said Antoine Weston, president of the Mentoring Youth Network. “We want to join forces with as many mentoring groups as we can.”

Weston said the conference featured Kamaria, the Wayne County Mental Health Department and other local professionals, who met with youths and adults to discuss bullying, conflict resolution and signs of trouble.

“We started bringing awareness to suicide,” Weston said. “I don’t think it’s something we can stop, but maybe we can help save somebody’s life.”

There will be two T-shirts available during the MenTEEs campaign. One is a hot chocolate fashion T-shirt that reads “Aspire Higher” in berry pink lettering across the chest. The other is a pink fashion T-shirt with dark chocolate lettering that reads “POWERFUL“ across the chest.

Both currently cost $12.99, plus $6 shipping, through Dec. 24, which is a $2 discount from its regular price of $14.99, plus $6 shipping, which will be the cost during the MenTEEs campaign.

“We’re coming out with some new designs in 2013, so that will help with our inventory,” Kamaria said.

For more information on EFG, visit www.empoweredflowergirl.com. To get involved or become a sponsor, email info@empoweredflowergirl.com or call (248) 629-0334 by Dec. 21.