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Wake Mentoring Program Helps At-Risk Girls

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A program in Wake County that provides mentors to at-risk girls needs a little help itself.

Sharnee Person, 10, carries a heavy load. Her mother is sick and Sharnee does most of the caretaking, including cooking and cleaning.

"I think there's been a lot of turmoil in her life as far as not a lot of fixed connections -- things that stay consistent over time," said Kim Leight, Sharnee's mentor.

Leight and Sharnee met through a mentoring program in Wake County called


, Women Involved in Nurturing Girls.

"Just living my daily life, I was really thinking about what I did and how much time I spent thinking about other than myself and being wrapped up in myself and wanted to give back to the community," Leight said.

Right now, WINGS has 20 mentor/mentee matches like Sharnee and Kim and 60 girls on a waiting list. The program just received a federal grant to make 40 more matches, but they are looking for more women willing to become mentors to girls who need extra nurturing.

"Our program specifically targets girls who are in need of a little extra guidance. They may have trouble at school, maybe they come from a single-parent family," said Alison Mackie, of WINGS.

Leight said she sets aside one day every week to spend with Sharnee.

"I'm going to get as much out of it as she is, if, not more. Just to see, hopefully, the positive influence that I can have," she said.

WINGS is holding an open house for women interested in becoming mentors. It will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Embassy Suites Crabtree in Raleigh.


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