When Jody Morrison and the volunteers of the Chelsea Morrison Foundation met Inner-City Scholarship Fund’s Executive Director, Susan George, she described it as a “match made in heaven,” noting both organizations’ commitment to enhancing children’s lives. Now, four years later, the Chelsea Morrison Foundation is one of Inner-City’s most active partners.
Founded in 2002 in memory of Jody’s daughter, Chelsea Morrison, who was killed in a car accident just before her 16th birthday, the Chelsea Morrison Foundation makes gifts to “like-minded non-profit organizations that aim to enhance the lives of children with kindness.” The foundation currently sponsors six high school students though Inner-City Scholarship Fund.
The foundation also provides volunteer mentors who play an essential role in the lives of these inner-city students. Jody describes this group as young professionals who help the students they mentor “reach for the stars.” This means aiding students’ plans for the future by helping them scope out potential colleges, assisting with admission applications, and providing support and advice to students as they tackle their first jobs. Mentors play an invaluable role, Jody notes, in the lives of students from low-income families where this kind of help is often not readily available due to the stresses of daily life. Jody adds that each year at graduation it is amazing to observe the close and mutually beneficial relationships of students and their mentors. “Give them an opportunity and they really shine,” she adds, referring to both mentee and mentor!
Lara Glaister has been involved with the Chelsea Morrison Foundation since its inception and serves as a mentor through the foundation’s partnership with Inner-City. As a young NYC professional who has launched a women’s lifestyle web site, Lara says she particularly welcomed the chance to do something that is “hands on.” While attending charity events is fun and raises necessary funds, “as a young person it is great to identify a need and then say we can help with that.”
Lara described a story about one of her recent students who was interested in engineering but lacked self-confidence despite an outstanding academic record. When Lara began working with the student, she felt that she wasn’t setting her goal high enough. Lara suggested that she re-evaluate her list of potential colleges. Several months later the student called to say that she was “completely shocked” — she’d been accepted to Columbia University — with a full scholarship. Lara has remained in touch with the student who is currently living in Ghana working on an economic development project. Lara says that for every minute of time she gives by being a mentor, she receives infinite payback.