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Last Monday, 81 girls pushed open the doors of Young Americans Center for their first day of Girls Can Summer Camp. Among the wide-eyed campers were six participants of the Metro Denver Partners mentoring program. Partners inspires community involvement, empowers youth to realize their potential, and creates hope for their future as youth are matched with adult-volunteer mentors who serve as both an advocate and friend. Mentor “Miss Karen” Quinn has been bringing youth to summer camps at Young Americans for the last 21 years.
As their mentor, Miss Karen believes that financial literacy is key to a successful future. The girls she works with have been referred to her by teachers, principals, counselors, and social workers. Many of them come from non-traditional families where mom and dad are replaced by grandparents, great-grandparents, and even older siblings. Of the girls in her program, Miss Karen says, “I don’t see bad youth, I see youth who have made poor choices.” Her goal is to empower the young people she works with to see potential in themselves by working on life skills, decision-making, goal setting, and supporting their education.
Girls Can Camp fulfills all of these objectives for Miss Karen’s mentees. The campers participate in Young AmeriTowne, a hands-on lesson in free enterprise, where they learn how to spend, save, share and invest their money wisely. Campers learn about women leaders around the world, both current and past, with a focus on the women’s suffrage movement. They connect with local businesswomen, who included Julie Blaser, Attorney at Davis Graham & Stubbs, and Carla Finn, Marketing Director of Schomp Automotive this year. Finally, participants establish new friendships with girls throughout the Denver metro area as they work together to run a successful AmeriTowne shop.
For Miss Karen, working as a mentor for girls at Metro Denver Partners is more than a job. She gets back “100 times” what she puts in, getting to know the girls and their families, creating a support system, and advocating for them if needed. The impact is clear whenever Miss Karen visits the grocery store and sees one of her mentees, or when she works with the children of past mentees. Young Americans is honored to have such a valuable community partner who is such an incredible resource for the Denver metro community.