When Trinia Arellano was in high school, her four Sunday school teachers were a huge influence in her life.
“They loved us, they were the type of women we wanted to be, and we always knew we had a safe place to go with people who would bring us back to God’s Word,” she says. “I have always wanted to be that to another young lady.”
When she moved to Germantown, MD, in 2010, she began attending Journey’s Crossing: A Christian Church, and serving as a volunteer leader with youth group.
“I was overwhelmed by the things today’s young women have to deal with,” she says. “There are lots of expectations, lots of pressure to develop an identity and fit in with others, and lots of searching for that sense of self in the wrong places.”
After talking to a few other women in the church, Arellano launched “Real Talk, Girl Talk” last September. The program matches volunteer adult mentors with teens; both groups apply to the program in a confidential, personalized process that includes questions about their interests, struggles, needs, and spiritual growth. Arellano works with Journey’s youth minister to interview each potential mentor and conduct background checks.
After a kickoff event for the entire group, each mentor is required to meet with her mentee at least once each month (although many meet more frequently) and to attend a training session once each semester.
“Training and nurturing our mentors gives them more to share,” Arellano says. “We also offer a Bible study for mentees the third Sunday of each month.”
Although the program is less than a year old, a man at the church has already talked to the youth minister about starting a similar group to mentor young men.