Tonight we celebrated my dear friend Emily Cales, who was recognized as Reno’s Phenomenal Community Member by the Alliance for Victims’ Rights. Ms. Emily is someone very special to every one of the women we work with and every one of their children. It doesn’t matter who you ask within Awaken, we all aspire to be like Emily when we “grow up”. Emily is selfless, generous, and at 79 years old, became one of our very first mentors. At Awaken, we give each of the women and girls we work with a mentor if they choose to have one. A mentor is someone who encourages them, fights for them, and loves them unconditionally.
I was able to sit down with Emily earlier this week and ask why she decided to get involved with Awaken. It is my hope to inspire others in the community to get past their initial fear and as Ms. Emily puts it, “jump right in”. It was in 2012 that Emily first heard about Awaken and then again at the beginning of 2013. She was sitting in church when she heard God say that He wanted her to get involved. It had happened before, and in the past, she just shrugged off the idea. But this time was different. She then spoke to us thinking it was just going to be learning more about how Awaken functions so she can pray more effectively, but boy was she wrong!
“I immediately started the mentorship process and learning the depths of trafficking,” said Ms. Emily. “It wasn’t long after that when I took my first girl out to lunch. I was more afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing or making her feel uncomfortable, I was not concerned about me. But in talking to her, there was ease and peace. And we are still in relationship today, in fact we are on our way to celebrate her birthday!”
“Knowing the girls and being in their lives absolutely blesses my life,” Ms. Emily said. “I can’t even explain to you what a privilege it is to be involved with these girls. They are just awesome, they really are. And as time went on, I met more of the girls. My heart goes out to them, they fight so hard for what they get. Yes, they may fall, but so do I. And they get back up and move forward again. It’s a joy to watch and it’s heart breaking when they do fall, but God is in the midst of it all. And I feel really blessed to be a part of it.”
When I asked Ms. Emily how she got over the initial fear, she said, “Praying God will give you strength for the things He wants you to do, outside of that, I think just jumping in and doing it. You can’t be on the sidelines and be in the midst of their lives. If you really want to be part of them, you need to be with them. You’ve got to learn who they are and the struggles they face and then just love them, and that’s the easy part!”
Ms. Emily told me that you can make all the difference in someone’s life, and I encourage you to get over your initial fear of getting involved in something new or giving back. Young adults are 55% more likely to enroll in college, and are 90% more likely to also become a mentor if they have had one solid mentor in their life. This week, take Ms. Emily’s advice and jump right in, you won’t be disappointed!