Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe South, Oklahoma City
Cherryl “Cherry” Barnett, the honored mentor for Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe South, has been recognized for her ability to create a safe place for club members to be seen and heard.
Barnett, who is an Oklahoma City resident and psychology major at the University of Central Oklahoma, serves as AmeriCorps Program Enhancement coordinator for Boys & Girls Club. Among her many activities, she leads the Drama Matters Club, which introduces elementary students to theater arts.
She also leads the Vocal Performance Club, which was selected to perform at the Boys & Girls Club Gala in 2018 and the Santa Fe South School District Gala in 2017. Barnett also leads the Torch Club, a leadership group that emphasizes good character, academic success, and healthy lifestyles.
“Cherry has been an integral part of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe South since its very first year,” said Club Unit Director Caitlyn Carnes. “She shares her passions with the kids and encourages them to try things outside of their comfort zone.”
Four years ago, Barnett recalls seeing a little girl, Abby, who was having trouble playing and connecting with other kids. Barnett approached Abby and asked her if she would like to play, and the girl “lit up” and began tossing a balloon back and forth with Barnett. The two of them developed a special friendship and unbreakable bond.
“Abby is a beautiful girl with a big heart,” added Carnes. “She feels the feelings of those around her and has such compassion that she struggles to process and manage those feelings. When Abby feels overwhelmed, she writes in a journal that she shares with Mrs. Cherry. Cherry is the first person we go to when Abby is upset. They have an amazing bond that was built over four years of Cherry listening and validating Abby's feelings.”
Abby enjoys writing, talking and doing art with her mentor. She praised Barnett as someone who cares deeply for others.
“She is very kind and cares about me a lot.” Abby said. “She is like a nurse, because she is always helping other people. She works really hard to keep us all on the same page and cares about everyone and their feelings."About the Program: Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe South offers tutoring, mentoring, recreational activities and more to children ages 6 to 18. Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.