Talbot Mentors Send Kids to Camp

A NASA scientist, a fashion designer, an accomplished equestrian, a competitive basketball player? This summer, Talbot Mentors kids are having a blast as seeds for their futures are sown. Thanks to support from local groups and individuals, dozens of mentees are enjoying summer-camp days—and, in some cases, nights. While most are participating in day camps, a good many are at sleep-away camps. For some it is the first time they are away from home. For everyone it is a time of camaraderie, learning, and just plain good times.

“We got to trot!” says 8-year-old Sierra Watson, whose three days at pony camp outside Preston turned her from total novice to budding rider. She bonded with her horse, Freya, and hopes to get the chance to ride again.

In programs that range from 3 days to 2 weeks, in the mid-Atlantic and beyond—all the way to New York State—campers aged 6 to 16 are being treated to experiences of a lifetime. It’s all in keeping with the Talbot Mentors vision that “mentoring will make a significant contribution to building a Talbot County where all young people have the opportunity to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives…”

Says Talbot Mentors Executive Director Natalie Costanzo, “This is our fourteenth season of providing our mentees with life-changing camp experiences. I’m proud to say that last year Talbot Mentors funded summer camp for 47 kids. This year it’s double that number.” With some campers attending more than one session, the total number of summer camp experiences funded by Talbot Mentors tops 120.

Leadership, all manner of sports, nature, crafts, theater, photography, cooking. The themes of this summer’s camps range wide.

“The volunteers who mentor the kids get to see horizons expand,” says Natalie. “The mentees love to share their camp stories with their mentors,” she continues. “An important facet of mentoring is providing children with opportunities they might not otherwise have.”

Each child’s camp tuition is paid in full by a Talbot Mentors scholarship. Thanks go out to the Bryan Brothers Foundation, Children’s Home Foundation, Women and Girls Fund of the Mid Shore, and more than 75 private donors whose support makes this all possible. The total spent on this year’s camp program: in excess of $20,000.

The funding is changing lives in ways we can only imagine.

For more information, to make a contribution, or to volunteer as a mentor, call Talbot Mentors at 410-770-5999 or visit www.talbotmentors.org.

Making New Waves at Talbot Mentors

Move over Easton. Here comes Saint Michaels. Talbot Mentors is opening their second office in this tourist destination. Mentors and mentees alike are invited to come see what “a little hard work” can do. Along with a new office; Talbot Mentors welcomes a new staff member as well. Monica Curreri, a Pfeiffer University Alumni and mentor to Ma’leah Robinson, will be serving as case manager for the non-profit. During college, Monica studied sociology and psychology. Now, she uses both to usher in a diverse and creative atmosphere to the new center. Monica became a mentor after discussing the organization with a friend. When she was younger, her grandmother surrounded her with unconditional love and support. “She was one person that I could talk to and ask questions. I could learn from her. She made me feel special,” she says, “I wanted to bring that feeling to another child.” In January, Monica joined Talbot Mentors and since then, has been a positive role model to the children.

Monica Curreri

She is dedicated to the development of the Saint Michaels’ office. “It’s cool! It has grown from an empty space into a place for fun!” With her history in the food industry, Monica hopes to bring back home cooked meals. Thus, teaching the mentees valuable life skills, while also pursuing a passion.

Not only is Monica going to teach the children how to thrive in the kitchen, she also wants to begin a program for high school students. “It’s still a work in progress but I see great potential in the new area,” Monica informs, “We’re ironing out the wrinkles!” Friends First, a program where seniors and juniors are matched with sixth-graders to help them navigate every-day challenges of middle school, is one of Monica’s many projects. The high school student would benefit from Friends First by receiving community service hours and a broader college transcript, while the sixth graders will gain lasting relationships and useful advice.

St. Michaels office

“I hope to see us grow from 14 mentoring relationships to 100 in the Bay Hundred area,” she says. When asked what she loved about being a mentor, Monica replied, “It’s the feeling that you get when you notice the connection building with your mentee. I love it!” This is a promising move for Talbot Mentors. Welcome aboard, Monica. The office in Saint Michaels officially opened on May 22nd with over 25 local community members attending.

The St Michaels Office will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays till 5:30pm, and is in the back of the St Michaels Housing Authority in Dodson Avenue.

There are many more children in the Bay Hundred Area that need mentors. We are in immediate need of five new men to mentor boys in the St Michaels and Tilghman Island area. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or know of somebody who would make a great mentor contact Natalie Costanzo today on natalie@talbotmentors.org or 410 770 5999.

Talbot Mentors Awards Its 2017 Scholarship to Michael McCormack

One morning, not too long ago, Michael McCormack—recipient of Talbot Mentors’ $2,000 scholarship—woke up to these words. They came in the form of a text message from his mentor, Brian Cotter, who writes to him daily. The morning motivational texts are in addition to regular get-togethers, church attendance, and evening phone calls. “The most we’ve ever gone without being in touch was when I was at Boy Scout camp, and even then I snuck in a phone call,” says Michael.

Michael and “Mr.” Brian have been a mentor/mentee pair for ten years. To see the two of them together is to immediately appreciate that this is a deeply engaged, respectful, and fun relationship. For Michael, Brian is like a father—especially over the past five years, in light of the death of Michael’s dad. “Michael is family,” says Brian. “That’s just the way it is.”

TM Brian Cotter and a young Michael McCormack.

This year’s Talbot Mentors scholarship is offered in recognition of Michael’s values, sense of purpose, and achievements in and out of school. He graduates from Saint Peters and Paul School —where his mom teaches third grade—at the end of May. His favorite subjects have been religion, history, computers, and gym.

Now, as his high school tenure winds down, Michael is playing a waiting game. The 18-year-old was accepted into all eight schools to which he applied, and now he has to choose. Which school will enjoy the honor of having this thoughtful, mature, dedicated, compassionate, pragmatics, and bright young man as a student depends on which institution will best come through for him with financial assistance.

“I do not want to totally finance school with loans and want to be financially responsible,” Michael says. One of the options he’s considering is Maryland’s 2+2 Transfer Scholarship program—two years at Chesapeake College and then two years at a state university.

What are Michael’s thoughts regarding career? “I am thinking about arts and entertainment management, or maybe something with sports,” he says, adding that he knows he’ll be studying business along the way. As he noted in his Talbot Mentors Scholarship application, “I would attend college in order to fully develop my talents and skills, as well as to grow as a person.”

TM Brian Cotter and Michael McCormack today.

Michael is an expert in time management. Throughout his student years he has juggled school, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and part-time jobs. Theater—on the stage but primarily behind the scenes—has been a staple in his life. As a veteran of several sports activities, Michael says he enjoys basketball the most. “I like the people, and my dad liked the sport, so there is a connection there,” says Michael. Adding to his fondness for the basketball is that fact that his mentor has coached the Saint Peter and Paul team for more than a decade.

“Michael played for two years and since has managed the team for 10 years,” says Brian, pointing out that in this role Michael touches every aspect of team life, from keeping track of team member stats and releasing this information to the Star Democrat to acting as a liaison between the coaches and the players. “He’s like a junior assistant coach,” says Brian, “doing everything imaginable to help the team.”

Making a difference matters to Michael, who has been an active member of many high school clubs, including Key Club. “We always do something to help people,” he says. Indeed, the club’s activities include a Special Olympics program.

“You are on the 18th hole and you have one putt left. Don’t miss it.”  That’s another of Brian’s morning messages to Michael.

For all his involvement, however, Brian doesn’t specifically steer his mentee. “Michael should do what he’s interested in doing. I am there to support him,” says Brian. “My only stipulation is that he works hard at what he does and that he keeps his grades up.”

Michael, whose grade point average is 3.32, has racked up accomplishments beyond the school environment. For more than six years he worked part-time on a farm, doing everything from “mowing the lawn to power washing the dock to grading the driveway,” he explains. Now he’s working at the new car wash in Easton—Gander’s—where you will see him directing the outside area. He directs drivers to the car-detail base, makes sure the customers are happy when the wash is complete, and sees to it that any problems are handled in a timely fashion.

Michael is currently providing technical support for the Tred Avon Players show Lend Me a Tenor, at the Oxford Community Center. He is rehearsing as Shenzi, the lead hyena, in the Chesapeake Children’s Theatre, Lion King, at the Prager Family Auditorium in Easton, June 9th  and 10th.

Michael, who is a member of Easton’s Boy Scout Troop 190, has recently received his Eagle Scout. Michael’s project was for Old Saint Joseph’s Church in Cordova in which he painted and repaired two outside buildings as well as planting trees in the cemetry. The church, which is a part of his parish, is special to Michael since his father is buried there and he wanted to spruce up the area, while completing his project.

In the realm of entertainment, NCIS is one of his favorite shows, and Mark Harmon is an actor who has his respect. Why Harmon?

“As a character, you know who he is,” Michael says, adding that “he always keeps the audience wanting more.”

Well, the same can be said for the Talbot Mentors 2017 scholarship recipient. Michael, you leave us wanting more, and clearly there’s lots more to come.

Where does he see himself 10 years from now? “Just enjoying whatever I’m doing.”

Go Michael!

A Talbot Mentors Match—the 100th!

TM Tina De’Angelis and Heidy Lopez-Cruz

2017 is an important year for Talbot Mentors. It is our 20th anniversary. Hundreds of Talbot County children have been matched with mentors in our 20 year history. Today is a special day. Today marks the most mentor/mentee pairs the organization has supported at one time – 100!

The meeting that will formalize a brand-new mentor/mentee match begins with an icebreaker—a way to get the group involved in something other than the sweet nervousness that comes with making new friends. At its core, the relationship between a mentor and a mentee is all about the trust, guidance, and care that characterize deep friendship.

Jazmine and Javana (Talbot Mentors staffers) get up from the table. Following suit are Tina (the new mentor), Heidy (the new second-grade mentee) and her mom and younger brother, and Jeremy (a seasoned mentor who has joined the group as translator). Heidy’s mom, Keilin, is from Central America and is just starting to learn English.

“Let’s play,” says Jazmine. “This is a little game about things that make you happy,” she continues before launching into a series of questions. There are no winners or losers. It is a chance to start to get to know one another.

“Which do you like better, dogs or cats?” Jazmine asks. The dog people are invited to stand on the left side of the room; the cat people, on the right. It’s dogs, unanimously. “Beaches or amusement parks?”  Only Javana opts for beaches. “Pizza or burgers”? All votes go for pizza—no, wait a second, Jeremy has walked to the burger side of the room. Heidy giggles. Before long, the ice is broken and everyone sits back down, still discussing likes. “Dancing” for Tina and Keilin; “playing Legos more than watching TV” for Heidy.

The laughter grows warmer.

“Now can I talk to Heidy?” Tina asks. Her cut-to-the-chase exuberance can be construed as a harbinger of things to come. Heidy will surely benefit from the “let’s get the ball rolling” spirit of a woman who clearly loves children and can’t wait to get started.  But she’s going to have to be patient for 15 minutes more.

“Today is April 3, 2017, says Javana. “It’s an important date—for you and, in a very exciting way, for Talbot Mentors,” she says, making eye contact with everyone seated at the table. “This will be your anniversary date.” Tina and Heidy look at each other.  Javana goes on to explain that mentor, mentee, and mentee’s mom will get together and celebrate in exactly one year. They will take stock on how things have gone for Tina and Heidy; what have they most enjoyed doing? In fact, mentors and mentees usually agree that “just being together” is what matters most. What are their thoughts re year two?

The importance of April 3, 2017, for the organization? “This is the 100th Talbot Mentors match,” Javana offers with a smile that could light darkness. History in the making! Murmurs around the room. This milestone match brings together a woman who grew up in the slums of Sao Paulo, came to the U.S. when she was 14, and went on to be a successful Eastern Shore real estate broker with a reserved seven-year-old child whose eyes flash brightness and whose conversation shuttles easily between Spanish and English. Tina is fluent in Spanish, which will go a long way to keeping Heidy’s mom in the loop.

Exchanged between Tina and Keilin are 3×5 cards with contact information. Logistical glue.

Next comes the match agreement—a one-pager that spells out expectations and commitments. Jazmine reads, “The mentoring relationship is a partnership between the mentee, mentor, mentee’s parent/caregiver, and Talbot Mentors, in a commitment to meet for 1-2 hours a week for a year. We ask that all members commit to working through challenges and agree to responsibilities outlined below.” Jeremy translates.

Communication—among all parties—tops the contract list. Making dates. Keeping dates. Sharing information on Talbot Mentors special events. Reporting pressing challenges. The document and a pen are passed around. Signers are Javana, Heidy, Tina, and Keilin. It is a declaration of interdependence that sets the stage for success.

Everyone’s schedule is tight, but the group quickly lands on a regular Sunday afternoon meeting time for Tina and Heidy. “School’s out June 9,” says Tina. “I hope we can meet more than once a month during the summer.”

Nods of agreement. Applause all around. A journey has begun. Tina and Keilin hug. And then the proud new mentor walks over to Heidy, who, in no time flat, is on Tina’s lap.

Smiles are wide. Horizons too. What a match!

There are many more children in Talbot County that need mentors. We are in immediate need of twenty new mentors. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or know of somebody who would make a great mentor contact Natalie Costanzo today on natalie@talbotmentors.org or 410 770 5999.

A Talbot Mentor Comes Full Circle

TM Jazmine

Now Jazmine is mentoring Lai’Aurii Brice, a feisty first-grader who was recently seen wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “It’s not all about me. Just mostly.” It is a fitting slogan for a little girl who doesn’t think twice about going after what she wants. The petite seven-year-old actually recruited Jazmine to be her mentor.

Here’s how that happened.

“I did not come into mentoring like most mentors do,” says Jazmine. After watching a training video during a parent/mentee introduction session at the Talbot Mentors headquarters, Jazmine and ‘Lai started playing together while ‘Lai’s mom spoke with Case Manager Javana Bowser. As ‘Lai and her mother were about to leave, the young girl looked Jazmine in the eye and said, “I know I am going to get to see you and play again because you are going to be my mentor.”

Jazmine wasn’t quite ready to sign up—and ‘Lai wasn’t quite ready to abandon her wish. “The next time I saw her,” says Jazmine, “she was here for an after-school cooking session. As soon as she saw me walk in, she said, ‘Look everyone, it’s my mentor.’ She ran over to me and gave me a hug.”

And so the match was made—early in January 2017. Most mentor/mentee pairs meet once a week. ‘Lai and Jazmine have been getting together two or three times a week—going to Pet Smart to see the animals, playing with the kittens at Talbot Humane, looking at art at the Academy Art Museum (followed by some frozen yogurt), walking around Target, and hanging out at the Mentors office after school on Wednesdays.

TM_ Jazmine Gibson and Lau'Aurii Brice 3As a well-seasoned mentee and a Talbot Mentors staffer, Jazmine has a great grounding for being a mentor. From her various vantage points, she knows that the crux of good mentoring is individual attention. “To have someone carve out time for you means the world,” she says. “Miss Merrillee showed me that. In the time we have spent together, a world of opportunities to see the world in constructive ways has opened up for me. We went places, and she shared stories about her life. I saw, I listened, and I learned. She gave me so much.”

Now in the Mentor’s Seat, Jazmine is determined to provide the same sort of experience for ‘Lai.

Jazmine’s tool box also is enriched by her work at Talbot Mentors. She redeveloped the mentor training program to have it coincide with National Mentoring Association guidelines. She plays a key role in training new mentors, working with other staffers and Lenny Gold, who has been a Talbot Mentor for two decades. To now be a mentor herself is “almost surreal,” she says. “It’s one thing to be on staff at Talbot Mentors and another thing to actually be a mentor.”

And so she now is in the same shoes as those she trains. “I’m one of them, looking for ways to become a better mentor and choosing fun activities for my mentee. The Talbot Mentors organization helps mentors find their way when it comes to things to do with kids. The first time the two of them got together as “mentor and mentee,” Jazmine and ‘Lai pored over the Talbot Mentors “Idea a Week” list and checked off more than two dozen “must-do” activities, including walking the trails at Pickering Creek, sitting down for a soda at Hill’s, taking photographs, going fishing, and heading out for a swim at the Easton or St. Michaels community pool.

‘No matter what we do together, being with ‘Lai always reminds me of what it’s like to be little,” Jazmine says. “The enthusiasm—though she is far more outgoing than I ever was—the stubbornness, how great it is to have fun, and how good it feels to have someone pay attention to you.”

It’s not uncommon for a mentor—even one with only a couple of mentoring months under her belt—to think way down the line. Jazmine’s hopes for ‘Lai? “That’s a big question,” she says and then offers a sincere, uncomplicated answer. “She should be happy.”

For more information, to make a contribution, or to volunteer as a mentor, call Talbot Mentors at 410-770-5999 or visit www.talbotmentors.org.

By Sheila F. Buckmaster

A Winning Partnership

TM_Natalie Costanzo and Mike Meoli

Mike owner of the two local McDonalds handing the check over to Natalie Costanzo, Director of Talbot Mentors.

In January for National Mentoring Month,  Talbot Mentors partnered with the local McDonalds. McDonald’s donated a portion of every happy meal sold in January from the two restaurants in Easton to Talbot Mentors. In addition McDonalds held two McTeacher Nights in support of Talbot County Public Schools. A total of almost $3000 was raised to help local kids in Talbot County. We would like to express our thanks to the owner, Mike Meoli.

Bringing the Anti-Smoking Message Home—Artfully

When Talbot Mentors asked the Academy Art Museum to design an anti-smoking project, Constance Del Nero, the museum’s Director of ArtReach and Community Programs, got creative. “I wanted to do something a little more unusual than the standard posters students traditionally make for such projects.” Thinking outside of the box, she came up with an art experience that would allow mentees to simulate the damage caused by smoking.

First, she showed the anti-smoking “creative team” pictures of healthy lungs and smokers’ lungs. Then, using printmaking paper, pencils, markers, charcoal, crayons, tea, and coffee, the kids really got into the project as they aggressively made a series of marks that represented the harm done by smoking. “When the lungs looked sufficiently damaged,” says Constance, “we set them aside to dry.”

talbot mentors

Robert Thompson and Constance Del Nero showing off their artwork

Next, the kids cut out a pair of “healthy lungs” from pinkish card stock, then mounted both the healthy and damaged lungs on poster board—and added information about what makes smoking dangerous and helpful ways to get a loved one to quit.

“Having the students actively participate in degrading the lungs put them in a unique position to understand the damage caused by smoking over time,” says Constance. “I hope they were sufficiently ‘grossed out’ not to want to start in the first place.”

Constance has worked for the Academy Art Museum for five and a half years, designing field trips around museum exhibitions, working with area schools and community organizations, and designing special programs for students of all ages.

“Constance really outdid herself this time around. She came up with a powerful project that conveyed a critically important message in a way that can’t be ignored,” says Talbot Mentors Executive Director Natalie Costanzo.

For more information, to make a contribution or to volunteer as a mentor, call Talbot Mentors at 410-770-5999 or visit www.talbotmentors.org.

A Talbot Mentors Bilingual Match

tm-lizardo-and-jeremyYou just might see them sitting across from each other in the popular back space of Rise Up on Dover Street. Chances are, given the cold weather, they’re sipping hot chocolate. Here we have a boy and his mentor, Lizardo Santos (age 12) and Jeremy Hillyard (age 30). Listen. They are speaking English, though they could just as easily be speaking Spanish. Jeremy has taught Spanish at Easton High School for seven years. Named Easton High School Teacher of the Year in Spring 2016, he teaches all levels of Spanish, including AP. (He also coaches the school’s It’s Academic quiz-competition team.) Seventh-grader Lizardo, born in the United States, speaks Spanish at home with his mom and sister, Azuceli. The family hails from Guatemala.

Lizardo is a very gentle, polite, and attentive boy; Jeremy, as befits a teacher, is patient, kind, encouraging, and quick with humor. Jeremy and Lizardo were “matched” by Talbot Mentors in March. Their banter and ease—in English, in Spanish—would suggest that they’ve been in each other’s lives far longer.

“I want to use my language skills to be productive,” Jeremy says, adding, “in a meaningful way. There’s a real need for bilingual support in our community.”

Jeremy and Lizardo generally see each other once a week. “I took him to the first movie ever in his life: Zootopia,” says Jeremy. “Since then we’ve seen Angry Birds, Finding Dory, Secret Life of Pets (‘that was really fun,” says Lizardo), and Storks.” (Indeed, mentors who mentor children under the age of 14 often can tell you all about the latest kids’ movies.)

Another favorite mentor/mentee haunt is Kiln Born (everybody still calls it Clay Bakers). On a visit in the summer, Lizardo chose a shark to glaze. He painted the body blue and the tail black. “The teeth were red,” Jeremy says. “That was the really scary part.”

A special treat for Lizardo—and Jeremy—was the Pitbull concert in Washington, DC, at the Verizon Center. “It was at night,” says Lizardo, who was familiar with the artist’s Latin American–style hip hop. “It was my first concert. Seeing him sing was really cool,” Lizardo says, eyes wide.

Jeremy’s fluency in Spanish makes it easy for him to communicate with Lizardo’s mom. In a twist of linguistics, she said to Jeremy, the first time she met him, that she hoped he could teach Lizardo more Spanish!

“Recently she told me she wanted to get Internet,” Jeremy recalls,” but didn’t know how to go about it. I called Easton Utilities and got the information she needed.” (Pre-Internet in the Santos household, Lizardo and Jeremy would use Rise Up’s free wi-fi.)

“We got Internet on November 11th,” Lizardo pipes in. He uses it primarily for doing homework. His cell phone is more for play. “We love Pokémon GO,” Jeremy says.

Back to Rise Up. One afternoon, Jeremy and Lizardo got a behind-the-scenes look at the coffee-bean-roasting area. “Whatever we do, I like to have there be an educational link,” says Jeremy. “That’s the teacher in me—or something.” At Rise Up, the two learned about harvesting the beans, the concept of fair trade, how the beans are roasted, and, most pertinent of all, where the coffee comes from—places like Nicaragua, Costs Rica, and Guatemala.

jeremy-lizardoCome June, Lizardo, his sister, and their mom will be heading to Guatemala to be with family. It will be Lizardo’s first time on a plane. Given his thoughts of possibly becoming a pilot when he grows up, this should be quite an experience. In the meanwhile, the seventh-grader’s favorite subject in school is social studies. He loves learning about the world. To be sure, Jeremy is making Lizardo’s world a little wider with each encounter.

How do Jeremy and Lizardo land on activities? “Jeremy asks me what I’d like to do,” says Lizardo. “One time he told me he wanted to go fishing,” Jeremy recalls. “I’m not a fisherman, but I have a friend who is. He used to teach outdoor education to kids,” Jeremy continues, “so I asked if he would take us fishing, and he did.”

“It was awesome,” says Lizardo. Catching a fish was another first for him. He brought the catfish home. “My mom made fish soup,” says Lizardo, pride seasoning his words.

“Lizardo told me he wanted to learn about cooking. We talked about what we should try and decided to go with a three-milk cake—very popular in Central America.” The two went shopping for ingredients and did their baking at the Talbot Mentors office, which has had a full kitchen since the spring. The cake turned out great.

Jeremy and Lizardo, who love sports, recently went on a Talbot Mentors outing to see the Wizards play in Washington, DC. While most mentor/mentee time is spent one-on-one, Talbot Mentors offers special programs, from following a corn maze in the fall to Wednesday after-school yoga, crafts, and martial arts sessions.

Jeremy’s enthusiasm for being a mentor is clear—and contagious. “It’s really neat. I’ve grown as a person. . .being able to be there for somebody and being helpful,” he offers. “That’s what makes mentoring so gratifying. It’s what drives me.”

To be sure, most mentors you talk to will tell you that they could well be getting more out of the experience than the kids are. But one look at Lizardo as he looks at Jeremy tells a story of mutual respect and happiness. It is a fine, fine match.

When asked to describe Jeremy, Lizardo says, “Cool. Nice. Awesome.

As their time at Rise Up winds down on a wintry Sunday, Jeremy turns to Lizardo and says, “I really like hanging out with you.”

Sometimes it’s that simple.

For more information, to make a contribution, or to volunteer as a mentor, call Talbot Mentors at 410-770-5999 or visit www.talbotmentors.org.

Talbot Mentors Elects Four New Board Members

Four new members were recently elected to the board of directors at Talbot Mentors. They include Dr. Kelly Griffith, Dr. Lois McCoy, Tripper Showell and David Willse. “We are pleased to welcome this committed group of community leaders to our Board,” said Irene Schmidt, outgoing President of the Board of Directors. “Each of them brings diverse talents and experience as well as passion and commitment to our mission.”


TM New Board Members: L to R: Tripper Showell, Kelly Griffith, Lois McCoy, David Willse

Leaving the board are Kerry Foxwell, Martha Horner, Irene Schmidt, Peter Zukoski and Marie U’Ren. Natalie Costanzo, Executive Director of Talbot Mentors said, “These board members have been tireless ambassadors for Talbot Mentors and the youth of Talbot County.  Talbot Mentors, and in particular the mentors and mentees in the program have benefitted immensely from their time and talent as they led Talbot Mentors on an exciting journey in the last couple of years. This journey has resulted in a doubling of youth paired with mentors, and an increase in programming to ensure all young people in Talbot County have the opportunity to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.”

Assuming the leadership role of board president is Bill Brashares who has served on the board for four years and who will follow Irene Schmidt. Bill has been a mentor and Board Member with Talbot Mentors for 15 years, and has mentored 3 boys in this time.

Talbot Mentors Annual Dinner “Wow, What a Year!”


5-year match Mary Meiser and Jamesha Ross

With those vibrant words, Executive Director Natalie Costanzo, opened what was a record-setting evening—the 19th annual Talbot Mentors dinner celebration on November 2, 2016 at The Milestone. There were an unprecented 232 people in attendance—mentors, mentees and members of their familiies. “We’re bursting at the seams, and we love it!” said Costanzo, who continued by thanking the mentors who step up to the plate to help improve the lives of local kids.

Talbot Mentors is based on one-on-one interactions between mentor and mentee. To have so many in the program in one room spoke to the scope of Talbot Mentors and made all in attendance feel part of a very special—and growing—family. Celebrated that night were 85 mentor/mentee pairs.


5-year match Javion Emory and Miguel Dennis

The event provided an opportunity for the organization to recognize the life-changing contributions of its volunteer mentors, who give their time in friendship to a child, building relationships that benefit not only the children, but their families, the mentors themselves, and the community as a whole.

Costanzo spotlighted some of the year’s successes: “Forty seven scholarships were given out to kids to attend a Summer Camp of their choice, up from 19 scholarships the year before. We renovated the Talbot Mentors Office space for the mentors and mentees. And we provided over 50 activities for mentors/mentees to enjoy throughout the year,” she said.

Adults sat at the dinner tables, talking about the joys and challenges of mentoring. Kids jumped up from the tables to play together and have their pictures taken—funny glasses and silly hats optional!. But the room went silent when local singer-songwriter Kat Parsons accompanied mentee Taylan Wilson as she sang a stirring rendition of “At Last.”


5-year match Jordan Williams and Colin Meiser

All mentor/mentee pairs were acknowledged. A special shout-out—and certificates—were offered for five-year- matches. Jamesha Ross and Mary Meiser, Javion Emory and Miguel Dennis, Jordan Williams and Colin Meiser, and Darius Sarvis and Bob Coleman were recognized..

The evening closed with a lively video featuring mentors and mentees. As the kids recognized themselves up on the screen, the power of Talbot Mentors was spotlighted. Mentors and mentees, moving toward enriched lives, courtesy of powerful friendships and caring.
For more information, to make a contribution or to volunteer as a mentor, call Talbot Mentors at 410-770-5999 or visit www.talbot mentors.org.