by Ashley Snyder

As the country reflects on the legacy of President John F. Kennedy during the 50th anniversary of his assassination, I find myself focused on what I consider to be his most enduring achievement: reinvigorating an American spirit of service.  His resounding call, for a nation in which we help the poorest among us, is as necessary today as it was fifty years ago. After all, in Virginia, nearly a quarter of children still live in poverty today.  This new generation of children born into poverty is yearning for the opportunity to escape this condition of circumstance and reach their full potential.

After the past three months serving with the Space of Her Own and Space of His Own programs in Alexandria, I truly believe that mentoring may be just what these children need to realize the limitless future that they have yet to envision for themselves.  For a long time, I believed that education alone could lift children out of poverty.  In my experience as a classroom teacher, however, I found that there was another missing piece of the magical formula that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be able to fulfill for every single child that passed through my door.  As I’ve witnessed the power of human connection between mentors and mentees during my short time here, I know that a mentor has the potential to impact the life of a child in immeasurable ways. This impact could even be the key that helps to lift them out of poverty.

The novel idea of Space of Her Own is what drew me to serve with the Virginia Mentoring Partnership ( If you want to know what we do and how we do it, visit www.spaceofherown.org. I promise you won’t be disappointed). The insight I have gained on how mentoring can be used as a tool for social change is what keeps me inspired.  I have been fortunate to not only have the opportunity to serve as a mentor with the Space of Her Own program but also to help recruit the first class of men to serve as mentors with the Space of His Own program. As I recruit additional mentors to volunteer for the 2014-2015 program year, I keep in mind the potential that each mentor has to truly change the course of an individual’s life.  President Kennedy’s dream of a service corps focused on the goal of lifting thousands, if not millions, of Americans out of poverty. Virginia Mentoring Partnership’s mission of ensuring that every child in Virginia that needs or wants a mentor, has one, will undoubtedly assist in realizing this outcome.