Maria Machado works with a community much in need of mentors. She serves as part of the Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents, which is a site-based mentoring program designed to build the academic confidence and social skills of children ages 8–16 whose parents are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. Often these young people feel ashamed and are in need of a caring adult to support them.
Maria and her mentee not pictured
Maria has been able to work with the same young person for almost two years. Each week she spends two to three hours helping her mentee with her homework and providing support and encouragement. Because of her service, her 8-year-old mentee is now doing well in school and has been able to make friends. Maria has played a big part in helping her mentee believe in herself and gain self-confidence as an artist. In the beginning her mentee would not talk much and was very withdrawn. Now, she walks in, sees Maria, smiles and talks about her day. This young person knows and feels that someone believes in her and has even told Maria she wants to be just like her when she grows up.
Maria’s recent battle with T Cell Lymphoma has made their relationship stronger. The health challenge was daunting and life challenging, but Maria expressed that her volunteer service was most rewarding during her battle with cancer. Whenever Maria’s strength permitted she would mentor during chemotherapy because it made both her and her mentee happy and it was good for her spirits and recovery.
Maria’s nominator expressed: “Her life has inspired me to keep going. No matter how bad a day is, I still hear Ms. Machado’s voice, “You just have to keep going.” Her hope, her commitment to service and her vulnerability has had a profound impact on my life. She has not only impacted my life, but more importantly, the life of a young person who too was looking for support and hope.”