Our programs would not be successful without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers. Whether at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Night, being recognized as a Mentor of the Month, or getting a simple word of encouragement, we strive to acknowledge all the hard work our mentors put into making our program great.
Mentor of the Month
Erin Powell – March 2020
Erin and Je'Quar were matched in February of 2015 and quickly developed a close friendship. They have enjoyed their time together exploring libraries, trying out new skills and hobbies and attending BEST Kids events including our most recent STEM League. Erin has helped foster a sense of exploration in Je'Quar through working on their goals and Je'Quar has since learned how to do magic tricks, how to improve his basketball skills and even how to edit and create his own superhero movie trailer! Erin has quickly become a part of Je'Quar's family and in the same spirit has never let Je'Quar forget that he is capable of anything.
1. What’s your fondest memory from spending time with your mentee?
There have been so many fond memories with Je'Quar over the years! From watching him compete and excel in a youth chess tournament, to playing basketball together and seeing him fine-tune his skills, to running the annual BEST Kids Superhero 5K with his family, and all the moments in between.
2. What has been your favorite Peer Group?
We had a blast visiting Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, MD and learning about life on a farm and where our food comes from. We met a goat that took a particular liking to Je'Quar and started chewing on his shirt -- we still laugh about it to this day!
3. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced since becoming your mentee’s mentor?
Navigating Je'Quar's work ethic in certain school subjects like math has been challenging, especially given that I'm not the best at math myself! When we do go over his homework, we try to focus on one aspect of the lesson plan at a time so that it's not as overwhelming. Je'Quar's fairly new ADD diagnosis (which is something I have too) was also helpful in understanding why school might be difficult at times, so I'm happy that I can be a resource for him on that as well.
4. Can you explain your job and something you enjoy about your work?
I work on digital and social media strategy for IFAW, an animal welfare and conservation nonprofit. I love that I can help tell the stories of the work that we do, from rehabilitating orphaned elephants in Burkina Faso to rescuing koalas from the bushfires in Australia.
5. What do you like to do in your free time?
You can find me hiking, kayaking, traveling, writing, going to the movies, and of course spending time with Je'Quar, my family, friends, and dog.
6. What's your favorite food?
Anything sweet, especially ice cream!
2019 BESTie AwardsMentor of the Year
Rookie the Year
Longest Mentoring Match
Educational Strides Award
Life Skills Strides Award
Caregiver Connection Award
Go For the Goal Award
Julia ZurBEST Kids Supporter
Stephanie Sweet (ages 6-14)
Megan Brew (ages 6-14)
Roxi Reeves (ages 15+)
Socialization Strides Award
Most Creative Outings
2019 BEST Kids Awards RecipientsBEST Believer Award - Eric Warden
This award recognizes an individual for their contribution of time and resources to help further the impact of our programs.
Eric has not only been a faithful donor for many years, but has also recently stepped up as a volunteer to assist and lead us in our current strategic planning process.Bringing out the BEST Award - Psychiatric Institute of Washington
This award recognizes a corporation that has invested time and resources in order to maximize our ability to sustain our programs.
The Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW) has been a consistent sponsor, supporting our ART of the Matter event, since 2015 and has also worked with us to ensure our mentees are receiving the best care possible during times of crisis.BEST Friend Award - Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington
This award recognizes a partnering agency of group that has gone above and beyond to help advance BEST Kids' capacity to deliver our programs.
The Catalogue for Philanthropy has been a tremendous support in advocating for us among foundations and donors and has also invested in us through providing staff training and capacity building.
Volunteer Appreciation Night
Every January, BEST Kids hosts a mentor recognition event. Mentors are presented with awards and honored for their service in the program from the past year by receiving a BESTie Award. Scroll through the photos of the most previous Volunteer Appreciation Night, celebrating all the great things that happened in 2019!