As every Midnight Golf Program mentor will attest, the rewarding nature of their work with young adults in the program far outweighs the time put in.
And that time is significant. Mentors attend the program twice a week for 30 weeks and accompany our young people on a weeklong college tour.
Mentors tell us that their work with young people gives them energy. They draw inspiration from students’ fearlessness. They practice accountability with the students and with themselves. And they tap a familial-like love that gives their workaday world a sweeter perspective.
Meet our Mentors
Some of the biggest barriers faced by Midnight Golf Program students are lack of access to positive role models to help navigate the often-tricky path to college and fragile support systems at home. As of 2017, only 32 of 87 Detroit high schools surveyed had access to trained counselors or advisors.
Each year, about 65 Midnight Golf Program mentors log roughly 390 hours each working with our young people, more than 10 times the national average of 32 hours/year. Our mentors treat their mentees like family, offering rides home, a shoulder to cry on, late-night essay-writing support and other guidance that goes well beyond the basic volunteer commitment.
Captain/Chief Pilot, Delta Air Lines
“Midnight Golf Program is such a fertile environment to give back, which is something we all need to do as much as we can afford. I honestly can’t imagine not being involved with MGP. It is ironic because it takes so much of my energy, both physical and mental, yet I get such great satisfaction of having my ‘tank’ emptied so often. The time commitment for all is often daunting, yet never a burden.”
College Success Coach & College Liaison, Midnight Golf Program
“I’m so proud when I see a young MGP alum representing the brand and using the tools they were taught during the program. I get excited thinking that these are the future leaders and all of them are from metro Detroit. A lot gets said about this generation and even more about young people from Detroit, but these young people are dispelling those ideas on a daily basis and that makes me beam with pride.”
HR Policy Specialist, City of Detroit
Chanelle Manus, a 2009 high school graduate, learned many lessons from the Midnight Golf Program that she still carries in her back pocket. From how to keep an open mind, to where to place a name tag, to when to write a thank you note, to how to research colleges, MGP taught her life skills that were not being presented in the public school system. She says, “Midnight Golf is really good for support and giving you the tools that you need to be successful.”
And that success has followed her. In the ten years since high school graduation, Chanelle has focused on education. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University; landed an internship with the Detroit Lions media relations department (MGP connections helped to open the door); attained a Juris Doctor degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School; and is in her fourth season as an intern with the Detroit Pistons.
While studying for the Michigan Bar Exam, she worked three jobs, yet passed the exam last year on her first try. One of the really compelling aspects of Chanelle’s educational journey is that she served as a mentor at Midnight Golf all through law school and while studying for the bar.
“Midnight Golf was just one of those things that I could not give up,” says Chanelle.
Today she is an HR policy specialist for the City of Detroit, where she writes, conducts research and analyzes policy and will be transitioning to her own law firm – Manus Law – this year. Her future aspirations include working in a professional role for the NBA.
“It is imperative to lift as we climb”
Although she hasn’t reached the pinnacle of her career, she is determined to help others.
It is imperative to lift as we climb,” says Chanelle. “As I’m working to try to make a career for myself, it’s important to give back to the Midnight Golf
Program youth who are looking to make something of themselves.”
The Midnight Golf Program helped Chanelle figure out what she wanted to do, where to go to school, and how to accomplish her goals. “If I can do that for someone else, that brings me satisfaction.”
Even today, she relies on a handful of special people she met in Midnight Golf for counsel.
“Ms. Reneé, Mr. Ambrose, Mr. Gamlin, Sommer [Woods], and Jason [Malone]. These are people that, if I’m considering a big life choice, I talk to, find out their opinion,” says Chanelle. “It really matters to me what they think.”
Coordinator National ESSP (EAP), and Well-Being Department, UAW-Ford
Like clockwork, every Tuesday and Thursday Reggie Mills shows up as a Midnight Golf Program mentor for the high school success program.
Having been through real-life experiences himself, including raising two daughters and 23 years in recovery, he feels he can talk honestly about both the pitfalls and joys of life, through his own struggles and accomplishments.
One of those struggles was in 2016, when Reggie’s late wife was battling cancer. While mentoring and counseling MGP students, he was also on the receiving end, reaping support. “Every student that I dealt with, engaged with in mentoring, called me on a daily basis, sent me cards, words of encouragement, and text messages,” says Reggie. “The program itself kept me motivated throughout the whole year, and when my wife passed, it kept me moving forward.”
That motivation continues today, fueled by watching MGP young people succeed during the program, graduate from high school, and move on to college. “It’s amazing to see how in 32 weeks, you can capture their attention and really engage their enthusiasm to want to achieve more.”
Reggie is an achiever himself. He works for UAW International as the UAW-Ford Coordinator for the National Employee Support Service Program. He has taken MGP participants to visit some of the Ford facilities to help them understand the manufacturing business in areas like engineering and others that
showcase the production process beyond the factory floor.
“It’s amazing how in 32 weeks, you can capture their attention and really engage their enthusiasm to want to achieve more.”
In his sixth year as a mentor, Reggie has touched the lives of many young people. He has a particular bond with Antonio, who is now a sophomore at Michigan State University. They communicate at least twice a month whe n Antonio is in school and weekly during the summers.
Reggie says that they are very close, and he’s proud of Antonio’s determination to be successful and help others: “It’s the background that he comes from and watching him not letting that background be his story,” says Reggie. “He’s wanting to create his own story.”
Beyond mentoring students like Antonio, Reggie supports MGP financially. Not only does he sponsor events, he also established the Phyllis Mills Gift of Love Scholarship Fund in memory of his wife, who wanted to give back to students going into the medical field. “I can actually see how my donations are creating lifelong journeys,” says Reggie.
Become a Mentor
Volunteer mentors are needed to lend guidance and support to our young people.
Mentors provide inspiration and encouragement while reinforcing the importance of accountability and advocacy. They are are role models for professionalism and confidence. Learn more or apply for being a mentor here.