Church hosts breakfast, offers mentoring program

Participants in the Bethany Community Church “Rites of Passage”

On Sunday, Jan. 15, Bethany Community Church will host its third annual prayer breakfast honoring the great U.S. civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It will be held at 8:30 a.m. in the Gavilan College Student Union Cafeteria; admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children.
The breakfast will include an informative and entertaining program, including:
– Welcome by Gilroy City Councilman Peter Laroe Munoz
– Presentation describing the youth center
– Drumming by Bethany students
– Saxophone solo by Luis Lenzi
– Keynote speech by California State Assemblyman Luis Alejo
– Teacher of the Year Award to Lucy Rodriguez, a folkloric dance instructor
– Closing song, “We Are the World,” by Bethany Youth singers
Proceeds will go to support a major outreach ministry of Bethany Community Church, the Bethany Youth Empowerment Center. This afterschool and weekend program, held at 7449 Eigleberry St. in Gilroy, offers classes and other activities for youth throughout the South Valley.
This fall, the center offered its first “Rites of Passage” Leadership Program for Girls. Eleven girls from Gilroy and Hollister, ages 12 through 17, participated in a mentoring experience that exposed them to opportunities encouraging career aspirations. The adult women mentors included five lawyers, a public heath nurse, a college counselor and a store manager.
They met twice a month and read and discussed “Warriors Don’t Cry,” a book written by one of the Little Rock Nine who courageously integrated Central High School in 1957. They also participated in other activities intended to broaden their horizons:
– A discussion of leadership personal finance
– A “Dress for Success” presentation featuring appropriate attire for different occasions
– A visit to the Cantor Arts Center and tour of Stanford University
– A career panel featuring a physician, probation officer, NASA scientist and a grocery-chain owner.
– Attendance at a performance of “La Pastorela” presented by El Teatro Campesino at Mission San Juan Bautista.
Originally this mentor program was scheduled to end after the prayer breakfast; however, the students and mentors wanted to continue their relationship. Therefore, they agreed to continue meeting on a monthly basis for discussions and outings.
Because of the success of this program, Bethany is planning a similar program for boys that will begin in March and another session for girls in September.
The Rev. Gerald Harris, pastor of Bethany Community Church, praises the Leadership Program.
“This is an opportunity for a life directional change, a chance to rub shoulders one-on-one and develop personal relationships with caring professionals from the community,” he said. “These role models can dramatically influence students’ futures.”
Elvira Robinson, director of the program and a criminal attorney in Hollister, agreed that the program had an impact on the girls.
“They still keep in touch, asking questions and sharing challenges and victories in their lives,” she said.
To attend the prayer breakfast, to find out more about the Bethany Youth Empowerment Center or its Leadership Program, or to discuss becoming a mentor or mentee, call (831) 801-5530.

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