The Power of a Dedicated Mentor

Vanessa first walked through the doors of the Boys & Girls Club when she was eight years old – shy, uncertain of herself, and looking for math tutoring. What she discovered within the Club led her on a 10-year journey from Club kid to Youth of the Year to Club staff member. Now, having just earned her doctorate in clinical psychology, Vanessa attributes much of her success to the mentorship, belonging, and opportunities she received at the Club.

“It was at the Club where I learned what it means to belong, to be embraced by community, and to be supported in making my dreams come true. Ms. Patrick [Carter], the Director of the [Rotary] Club, was my champion. She pushed me out of my shell to dream bigger and reach further. Ms. Patrick knew what I needed and helped me to develop the qualities to get me there. She changed my life.”

Ms. Patrick and Vanessa Hara at LunchBreak 2019

Ms. Patrick knew what I needed and helped me to develop the qualities to get me there. She changed my life.

When Vanessa entered high school, Ms. Patrick encouraged her to join the Rotary Keystone Club, a service and leadership program for high school students. It was in this group where Vanessa learned that her voice mattered, and when she was selected to attend a national leadership conference in Washington, D.C. She was encouraged to step outside her comfort zone to represent her local Club. This life-changing experience propelled her on a path to being awarded Youth of the Year and inspired her to become a staff member at the Club.

“A couple months ago, I ran into a student who I worked with when I was on staff at the Club. It took me a moment to recognize her, and when I did, I remembered a shy, quiet third grader who grew into a bold and successful young woman. Her story is so familiar to me because her story is my story. I was that shy third grader who would have retreated without the support of the Boys & Girls Club. She told me I changed her life.”

Vanessa Hara giving a speech at LunchBreak 2019

Her story is so familiar to me because her story is my story. I was that shy third grader who would have retreated without the support of the Boys & Girls Club. She told me I changed her life.

The Boys & Girls Club gave Vanessa access to college scholarships and set her on a path to earning a doctorate in clinical psychology. Vanessa passed her licensing exam last month and is looking forward to beginning her practice soon. She is a testament to what Boys & Girls Clubs of King County hopes to achieve for all youth who step through our doors, and we are so proud be alongside her as she achieves her dreams.

See Vanessa’s Speech at LunchBreak 2019: