Two people from different backgrounds with different experiences came together to develop a network designed to support mentors called Each One Save One.
Lucimarian Tolliver grew up in Akron, Ohio, in an inner city neighborhood. Her mother was a day laborer and her dad was afflicted with the disease of alcoholism. Lucimarian figured she would grow up and live a lifestyle similar to her parents. That is until Mrs. Schnegg, her elementary teacher, opened her mind to other possibilities. With Mrs. Schnegg’s encouragement and support, Lucimarian Tolliver recognized her potential and as guided towards personal and professional success.
Mrs. Schnegg’s parting gift was to help Lucimarian fill out the paper work needed to get scholarships to go to college. With that gentle nudge, Lucimarian didn’t stop until she obtained a Masters Degree in Social Work. It is important to recognize that Mrs. Schnegg did not rescue her or take her out of her situation, but instead encouraged her and gave her the tools to chart her own path.
Like a ripple in a wave, Mrs. Schnegg’s influence didn’t stop there. Lucimarian married a man she had met in college and became Lucimarian Roberts. They shared the vision of success with their children, and each has professional degrees. Not only has Lucimarian achieved professional acclaim in her community, but also her father was so inspired by her success that he quit drinking and became an advocate for others who wanted to overcome alcoholism.
Lucimarian’s daughter, Sally-Ann Roberts, a local television and news anchor, was discouraged by all the negative stories she had to report each day. She wanted to do something to help. She called her mom to ask her how she had managed to survive and excel against all the odds she had faced in her childhood. Her mother shared the story of her first mentor, a teacher, who took an early interest in her and gave her the support and encouragement to go to college. She asked her mom, “If I were to create such a program, what should it be called?” Her mom replied, “If I were to create such a program, I would call it Each One Save One.”
Cathy Harris worked with children in the school system since 1977. First at McDonough 15 Elementary School as a parent volunteer and helping to produce and promote their annual fundraiser, the Jazz and Food Festival. As a board member and volunteer with the Young Leadership Council, she worked with children (mentoring and tutoring) at Hoffman Elementary School in 1986-89. She went on to serve on the Board of the parents’ organizations of Ben Franklin and Abramson High Schools. All of these schools faced many challenges to their goals of teaching children from overcrowded classrooms and low parental participation to limited resources.
In 1991, Harris worked with businessman, Zed Smith, Rev. Torin Sanders, Marcellus Grace and others to create a mentoring program, “Just for Boys” at then Phillips Elementary School. The focus was for African American males to mentor boys in grades K-5. Cathy recruited many including her husband, Ray, as one of the mentors. The program experienced many challenges- the biggest of which were recruitment and retention.
As fast as mentors were recruited, others were leaving. Other mentoring programs were also facing challenges with recruiting and retention. Half of the problems were the result of a lack of training for mentors and no formal structure for programs.
Cathy started a crusade to generate funding for training and produced a commercial to recruit more mentors. She presented the commercial and proposal to corporations in the metropolitan area. Cathy wanted to generate enough capital to create a mentoring model that could be used in schools throughout the school system. She would call it the Mentoring Network.
With her ideas for mentoring, Sally-Ann turned to Cathy Harris, a professional speaker and business owner, and community leader, who also had a mentor who encouraged, inspired, and helped her to achieve her goals. She and Sally-Ann met over time and in August of 1993, they combined their ideas to develop a mentoring program and their dreams were realized.
Each One Save One was born.