Located in the Fairhill/West Kensington section of North Philadelphia, Providence Center was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child in 1993. Working with the community, Providence Center provides educational programs and enrichment actives for adults and children.
As a high school freshman, Jaileen “Jay” worked as a teen mentor at Providence Center. Providence Center’s Teen Mentor Program hires bilingual teens—primarily Latina young women—from local high schools to work directly with the children in the Center’s After School Program, increasing the individual attention given to students. The mentors are paid a stipend for their work, which provides needed income for themselves and their families, and provides an alternative to at-risk behavior.
Looking back at her start at Providence Center, Jay admits that she was a timid young woman; she confesses that while she still maintains some of her shyness today, the Mentor Program helped her to develop confidence in herself. “I may have felt shy and like the students would not like me or listen to me. However, after being there for four years, I learned that the children looked up to me, and they do not realize how shy or nervous you are. They looked up to me as a leader, and that made me feel confident in myself. I did not realize how much help students really needed, until working at Providence Center.”
Through the program, Jay shares that she learned how to communicate. “I learned how to talk to the parents, children, and other mentors.” Jay highlights the mentor retreats as being meaningful and memorable experiences, particularly for her spirituality. “Going to retreats, my mind was cleared from other things like school, and was focused on God and my family. They reminded me to always trust in God, He is always there for us.”
This past fall, Jay started her college career at West Chester University. Although she is unsure of her major, she is leaning toward a career with children because of her experience at Providence Center.