“Awww how amazing it is to see a young woman give back to other young women & men!”
“Ari, I love what you do and I need you in my daughter’s life!”
“Ari why are you always with teens, are you a teacher?”
“Ari how did you get to where you are & how do you get paid?”
Hey there! I am Ari! Yes what I do is amazing, I would love to be in your daughter’s life (if you have one) and no I am not a teacher! I am a 28yr old Traveling Mentor, running two companies and 1 non-profit, with over 500 mentees. And how do I get paid…well for the past 4 years I didn’t.
Being a mentor was never my heart’s desire. As a matter of fact, I never had a mentor growing up. My dream since the age of 6 years old was to be a television host or a lawyer. I chose to pursue a career in law by attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the desire to enroll in their Law School. During this time, I implemented my leadership in many ways on and off campus, by running my own organization Dunamis Woman Empowerment Organization which empowered college young women to tap into their power and prosper mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. I guess you could say this was my good deed of carrying out my mom’s legacy as she spearheaded her own Dunamis Woman movement back at home. However, my small organization didn’t grow so well. I would host meetings every week and speak to a empty room full of seats for one hour as if I had one amazing meeting! Then I would send out a newsletter of how great our meeting was in hopes that more college students would show up the next week. Eventually I thought, “what college girl would want to be empowered by another college girl!” In the meantime, I slowly started discovering my gift of relating to a younger generation. My daily routine was school, work at a daycare, babysitting, running my “non member” organization and volunteering at the local park district to mentor elementary school girl. It was through babysitting & volunteering, I realized I had a natural born gift to impact a younger generation, yes even the babies!
Graduation day hit and I never got into law school. With no future plans, I asked myself, “God what plan do you have for my life?” because I gave up on the plan I had! By this time my mom had two companies, one being Dunamis Woman Enterprise, LLC…but I wasn’t sold on working for her, because she was a Pastor, Radio Host, TV Personality, Publisher, Author, you name it…and I felt like my entire life was spent hiding in her shadows! So, I took my college savings, came home, and started my journey as a pageant girl. (I’ll explain that journey later) However, when I came home things were a little different! My mom turned my childhood home into a transitional living home and would teach emotional healing classes to the women who had many different backgrounds of being single moms, divorced, homeless, jobless, etc. Through the winnings of my pageant titles my “good community” started to show me support and with all that I learned about life in college, my mom’s emotional healing classes and my own personal journey, I just wanted to pour out the wisdom I had on the inside of me to other young women in my community. So I arranged to meet with a local Superintendent to express my interest in running weekly meetings for teen girls. (Maybe this time, I wouldn’t have to speak to a empty room)
Connections were made and I volunteered weekly with what society would call “troubled & at risk youth” at an alternative High School in my local neighborhood. I showed up every week, all school year, and no pay. Why? Because I was passionate and committed. This is how I learned very early on that when you produce, God will provide as long as you have faith in the one penny you have. With faith, I would take my natural born gifts, lessons from my mom’s emotional healing teachings, and my life experiences to help students overcome their anger, depression, and at risk social behaviors (this was before “Social Emotional Learning” became mandated & a money maker for most non profits). My true passion for teens was ignited right there with those 12 inaugural young women and eventually young men, who are now adults themselves.They were the trailblazers to my life mission for mentoring and ignited my passion to mold our non profit, Dunamis Community Advocate Services and offer services such as full year round mentoring & intervention programs, outreach events, and a scholarship pageant to youth & teens throughout the Chicago land area.
It wasn’t until 3 years ago, I did a home visit to one of my past mentees who was on a new journey of becoming a mom and needed words of encouragement. As we shared memories she said to me, “Ariel you’re like a traveling mentor! When we call you come no matter where we are!” I looked at her and smiled saying, “I like that.. a Traveling Mentor is what I’ll aspire to be!” So that’s how my term #TravelingMentor ignited and as of today, I personally travel throughout Chicago mentoring over 500 mentees every week within our partnering schools and I no longer show up to empty rooms, but rooms full of young minds who are eager to ignite their power within despite the obstacles they face. I allow our organization to grow at God’s pace, I stay focused on the mission of true hands on mentoring and not a quick fix “money making scheme.” Many organizations have now jumped on the bandwagon of implementing “Social & Emotional Learning” but I simply thank God for my natural born gift to bring healing to their emotions in my own unique way. Pouring into young people’s lives and seeing change gives me life, it is not a phase it is truly my life purpose. I don’t know what the next plans for my life are, but if I had it my way, I pray it involves mentoring not only my teens, but my peers, my own school, being a traveling mentor nationally and hey, why not add in the TV talk show! 🙂
“Every time I teach, I’m learning. Every time I give, I am receiving and every time I give love, I feel love in return. God has an awesome way of taking care of me as I take care of others.”
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