Today's "Share the Love" Feature: Beverly McAfee, Founder of Marietta Mentoring for Leadership
Beverly’s Letter to Marge:
Marge, As I write this note I look back on the past 30 years and I can truly say the impact you have had on my life changed my life. Starting from that phone call, “Hello Beverly. I am Marge Kellogg and someone told me you would make a perfect mentor for a young girl who just needs someone in her life. Someone who will be there for her as she goes through high school and be there to help her make the right decisions.” I am so glad that I answered that call. When Marge calls, you listen.
I think how one call, one ask can change your life for the rest of your life. Well it did and it continues to today. I mentored that young girl as I saw just by having that someone else in her life helped her pursue her dreams. Graduating high school, on to college, remember when we helped move her into her college dorm. Seeing her graduate college, being at her wedding, seeing her now--Thanks Marge for this gift. I went into mentoring thinking I was going to change her life, but guess what happened--she changed mine. This happened when Marge was in charge of the Reach Program.
We all went about our lives, Marge retired, my mentee moved out of state, started a family and I went full speed into my career. Then the time came when my husband and I were making the decision about retiring. As i struggled with the decision I was wrestling with the idea of what i was going to do with the rest of my life. Would I take up tennis or maybe bridge? All I could think of 24/7 was mentoring and the impact it had had on my life. I mean, I wrestled with this night and day.
Don and I were sitting in the pew at our church, First United Methodist, when our preacher, Dr. Matthews was preaching a series on “Do You Feel the Nudge?” After listening to his sermons I knew what God wanted me to do for the rest of my life. It hit me like a bolt of lightning. I knew that He had prepared me all my life for this one thing: he wanted me to give back to the world. To help make a difference in the life of a child. I had to start a mentoring program in Marietta.
Boy, with that mission that I felt God had given me, I went full steam ahead. I talked to any and everyone that would listen. Everyone loved the idea and many came on board. We planned and thought of all the ways to make it happen. Have you ever had one piece of the puzzle missing?
Marge, you were the missing piece. Then I made the call, “Marge, I need you, will you just come to one meeting and tell us all about mentoring?” Well that one meeting turned into 10 years. Ten of the best years of my life, but more importantly the lives of hundreds of kids, mentors, staff, board members and our wonderful donors. Marge, we dreamed, we dreamed big and you and your passion for these kids and Marietta Mentoring for Leadership have changed so many lives.
It has changed our community and you know one thing I did know, “If it couldn’t be done in Marietta, it could not be done anywhere.” And we told these stories to our community, and they listened.
Marge, you let me share with you and your passion, your love and sometimes tough love for these kids and their families and I can never repay. The calls you made to me about things our kids needed. And that’s when I would hit the streets, telling their stories to anyone I ran into at Kroger, Publix, or on the square, anyone who would listen.
When one of our boys needed clothes so he could go to college on that football scholarship that you helped him navigate with the coaches. Just so he could be like everyone else. We bought that blue blazer and all the other things he needed and this community sent him off in style.
When we gathered up furniture for an empty apartment because one of ours and his mother and siblings found themselves in need. Sharing the smile of a young girl who had never been to the square or eaten pizza. The young boy who we found out was living in a shelter in Atlanta, riding CCT to the station, and walking 5 miles everyday to MHS just so he could graduate and join the Marines. Oh! That hug I got at graduation when he hugged me so hard I think maybe he cracked a couple of my ribs! And with tears in his eyes, he said, “Mrs. McAfee, if it were not for this program I do not know where I would be today. Now I will have my own pillow, my own bed, and I know where I will lay my head every night.”
Marge, we have shed tears together, got a lot of hugs (and more hugs), laughed a lot, planned a lot and all these things changed our kids’ lives and ours.
I think of the night I took a young girl home and she told me, we were meeting her mother, that she and her baby and her mother were living in a car. The young man who just needed special shoes so he didn’t have to limp anymore. The young man who had never visited a dentist. I could go on and on. These are success stories because we listened and told these stories and Marietta answered our call. Yes, God gave me the idea to start Mentoring for Leadership, but you made it happen.
It’s very simple what I’m trying to say--thank you for the memories. I cherish them. You helped me see what I just had never seen or maybe just didn’t pay attention to. I saw how that difference can be made if you just take the time to listen to the stories, taking these kids where they are and showing them how to shut some doors and open others to the opportunities they can have. I love the Patsy Cline song, “If you could see the world through the eyes of a child what a wonderful world it would be.” You helped me see that world. You have given me what money can’t buy.
I love you, your passion and your love for all these kids. Because of you and your leadership, this program will live on for years, and hundreds of other lives will be enriched and changed. Your legacy will continue!
I love you and I thank you,