INTEGRIS Positive Directions Mentoring Program, Oklahoma City
Edmond retiree Jeannie Strickland is being recognized by INTEGRIS Positive Directions Mentoring Program for her faithful four-year commitment to her mentee, Jorja, and for being a positive source of encouragement and comfort in Jorja’s life.
When the mentoring relationship began, Jorja was in first grade and had just lost her mother to breast cancer. Strickland had a daughter who was also going through breast cancer treatment and was able to provide Jorja with the support, encouragement and strength to persevere.
“Jeannie is always a faithful mentor who visits every week,” said Tobi Campbell, director of INTEGRIS Positive Directions Mentoring program. “Her commitment to following her student during important developmental stages is exceptional. Jeannie has become an important part of Jorja's support system.”
Strickland and Jorja love playing games together, making craft projects and working on classroom assignments. A favorite time is when Strickland brings lunch, and the two of them have a picnic. Jorja’s third-grade teacher, Cheri Price, shared a story of when Strickland bought an Easter dress and shoes for Jorja. The girl’s father works two jobs to provide for his family, and Strickland wanted to make sure Jorja had a nice outfit for Easter Sunday. Mrs. Price described Strickland as one of the kindest and most thoughtful women she knows.
Jorja said that Strickland inspires her and that they teach each other. “Jeannie is a great person, and I love spending time with her.”
Recently Strickland herself began cancer treatment, Campbell said. “Jorja can see through her relationship with Jeannie that there can be a positive outcome with cancer. During Jeannie's treatment, her daughter Bridget, has been filling in when Jeannie is not able to visit. This secondary relationship also allows Jorja to have another caring adult in her life.”
Strickland says she has gained as much from the mentoring relationship as Jorja has. Jorja has a positive outlook on life and chooses to make the best of every minute. Strickland feels like a kid again when the two of them play games. “The hour a week I spend with Jorja is such a blessing to me. I love that girl with all my heart," Strickland said.About the Program: INTEGRIS Health began the Positive Directions Mentoring Program in 1992 as a business/school partnership that encourages volunteers to mentor one hour each week at targeted elementary schools. The objectives of the program are to build self-esteem, establish positive relationships, help children overcome negative behaviors and improve the student’s classroom participation.