“Polished Pebbles helps it’s participants to S.H.I.N.E.: Smile, Hello, Introduce, Nod your head, End the conversation.”
The city of Chicago has gained major news coverage lately because of the gun violence which has become an epidemic in many African American communities. However, Allstate’s new “Give it Up for Good” campaign inspired me to highlight something good taking place in the city rather than the putting the attention on the bad.
Give it Up for Good is an inherently social and participation-led idea that celebrates the positive people, things and acts that bring good to local communities, and the African-American community at large. So in the midst of all of the negativity I found a beacon of hope permeating through the streets and schools called Polished Pebbles. This charitable organization, founded by Kelly Fair in 2009 works non-stop to Give it Up for Good by mentoring and uplifting young ladies in Chicago.
The Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program provides girls aged 7-17 with the opportunity of learning the vital life skill of effective communication. In partnership with local schools and businesses, Polished Pebbles has served over 500 girls via its network of more than 150 volunteer mentors. They have helped girls exhibit poise, react responsibly as opposed to retaliating, demonstrate assertiveness instead of aggressiveness, identify the difference between class and sass, and become polished. Key partnerships and collaborations include The National Mentoring Summit with First Lady Michelle Obama, Illinois Institute of Technology, ThoughtWorks, Blue Cross Blue Shield, WNBA/Chicago Sky, Chicago State University, WGCI-Clear Channel, Bloomingdale’s Department Stores, and The Microsoft Store.
Recently I was given an opportunity to get up close and personal with Kelly Fair, some of the young ladies of Polished Pebbles and a few volunteers. The Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring program is currently in 12 schools throughout the city, (this particular school partners with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky) where they meet twice a week for 1.5 hours after school.
When I first walked into one of the classrooms at Fulton Elementary School, Polished Pebbles facilitator Crystal Royal had already divided the 8 sixth & seven graders into individual groups for a team building exercise. I joined Kelly in the back of the room where she explained to me exactly what was taking place. Each group consisted of four young ladies who had to work together as a team to pick up a ball and carry it to a crate. This may sound easy, but they had to do this all while holding hands.
After the team building exercise it was time to build a resume and discuss the proper way to dress and conduct themselves on a job interview. (Remember these young ladies are only in the sixth and seventh grade, but they are preparing for their future now ) They have developed excellent communication skills through the mentoring program so they were all eager to add suggestions to the board. Finally they were instructed to go through magazines to find professional attire for their first job interview and to stand up in front of their peers to discuss their selections.
After the session I spoke one on one with Polished Pebbles founder Kelly Fair about change in the community, the upcoming fundraiser and the benefits of volunteering.
Kelly’s thoughts on change in the community…
“It’s important for people to donate and participate in the change we’re looking to see happen in our communities. Change comes about when everybody is committed to some piece of it.”
On supporting the upcoming fundraiser for Polished Pebbles …
“You’re contributing to the process of us planting seeds for girls to have better futures, because they are more equipped with skills and experiences just by your mere participation in the upcoming fundraiser.”
On the benefits of volunteering and mentoring…
“Volunteering and mentoring gives you a since of purpose. It may not be the thing you want to do for the rest of your life, but it gives you somewhere to be and when you are loving the girls enough to show up, you are loving your community.”
I am so proud of Kelly Fair and all of the amazing young ladies who participate in the Polished Pebbles Mentoring Program. I could see first hand that they were surrounded by people who truly cared and wanted to see them succeed in life. So, instead of shinning the spotlight on all of the negative things taking place in our communities, it’s time to highlight the positive. It doesn’t mean that the pressing issues are being ignored, but that you have decided to give your support and attention to the positive changes taking place in your community!
There are many ways to support the youth in Chicago, starting with making a donation and attending the Polished Pebbles Fundraiser!
Let’s give it up for charity. Let’s give it up for good!
How do you plan to “Give it up for Good” in your community?
Allstate believes that there is Good happening all around us, every single day, right in our communities. We believe that this Good is more powerful than Bad – it has the power to change the conversation, change communities, and ultimately, change lives, and we want to give it the recognition it deserves. We are committed to unearthing the stories about Good – stories of hope, strength and perseverance, stories of positivity and optimism, stories of kindness and generosity – stories that will inspire even more good.
Check out stories, pics, tweets and videos of the good happening in our communities at http://giveitupforgood.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Allstate via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Allstate.