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HUGS Helps Underprivileged Girls Succeed

Liz Ross and her mentee Jasmine Wates

Liz Ross, a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School, could not find a community service she liked to fulfill her volunteer requirements for the Bright Futures Scholarship so she started her own mentoring organization, HUGS, Helping Underprivileged Girls Succeed. Liz is a very active student. She is the Captain of Stanton's cheerleading squad, a member of the National Honor Society, Latin Club, National Latin Honor Society and Senior Women. She also works part-time and maintains a 4.4 grade point average.

HUGS now has 65 Stanton students mentoring elementary and middle school girls who attend after-school programs at the Emmett Reed Community Center. Kerry Soltis, MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, oversees the Stanton students. Stanton College Preparatory is a magnet school in Duval County that attracts many of the brightest students in the county. The students are from diverse backgrounds and share their hunger for knowledge with the girls they mentor.

The HUGS mentors have received much more than they have given. They assist the younger students with homework, reading and math. They also enjoy talking, playing games and just being with the girls. The HUGS organization requires a commitment to mentoring and being a good example for the girls at Emmett Reed Center. The Stanton students feel they are the winners! They not only enjoy the time spent mentoring, but have cherished the memories and friendships they have cultivated.

After graduating from Stanton Preparatory, Liz will attend the University of Florida where she will major in medicine. "I will miss my mentee, Jasmine, and all the wonderful young women I have had the privilege of mentoring," she said."I know HUGS will continue to grow and be a positive influence on the youth they serve."

For more information on HUGS, visit the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation web site,