A Scrapbook of Memories
Virginia Pohlmeier's Mentorship Experiences
Virginia Pohlmeier of Austin, Texas has been providing continuous support and encouragement through the Friendship/Mentorship program since 1973. During this period, Virginia mentored five students, building a tight-knit bond with two of the children.
Her first student was Renee, a 1st grade Navajo girl from Many Farms whom she mentored for almost 10 years. Following Renee's graduation from high school, Virginia began mentoring another Navajo student named Gladys. Early in their relationship, Virginia met Gladys and her family during a trip to Arizona. Over the course of their years together, Gladys visited Virginia two times at her home in Brownsville, TX, where Gladys had the pleasure of exploring new locations during a sightseeing tour to Matamoros, Mexico (see photo below). She also enjoyed her first airplane flight on a trip to Austin, her first view of the Gulf of Mexico, and her first plunge in a swimming pool.
Upon Gladys' graduation, Virginia forged a new friendship with Navajo student, Crescentia. The mentorship officially ended when Crescentia dropped out of high school to have a baby, which terminated her association with FFC. She eventually returned to high school after her baby was born and continued on to Apollo College in Phoenix, AZ where she earned an Associate degree. Virginia helped Crescentia with college tuition costs and attended her graduation in 2002 (see top photo of mentor and student displaying graduation rug dress). Virginia maintains, "Even though Crescentia left the program, Futures began our friendship and the result was that I was given the opportunity to help a very determined single mom when she needed it."
Virginia's next student was Pernell, a 14-year-old Jemez Pueblo boy and her current mentorship is with Emanuel, a Navajo boy.
Virginia saved all letters, drawings, and photos from each student and, when the individual mentorships ended, she created a scrapbook filled with the items they sent her during their communications. She then presented the scrapbook to the student and family. The offering was always a welcome tribute because as Virginia stated, "This has been a meaningful gift because they (students) may not have saved so many items themselves and it is fun for them to see their progress/development over the years."