Restoration Project Foundation (RPF) is thrilled to present Spotlight, our monthly feature dedicated to shining a light on our organization’s leaders and mentor partners doing incredible work in communities across the State of South Carolina. For our May Spotlight, we are pleased to highlight Proverbs Mentoring Organization, RPF’s first dedicated Mentor Partner. Founded by Don Peppers in 2004, Proverbs has grown from a two-week summer camp to a comprehensive mentoring program serving the youth of Upstate South Carolina. “Don is a trusted mentor, educator, and coach,” said RPF CEO Craig Wooten, “and we are thrilled to be supporting the great work Proverbs is doing in the community.”
“When I started Camp Proverbs in Pendelton in 2004, it was an act of love,” Don explained. “I wasn’t trying to get into the non-profit world, I just wanted to offer a camp that would benefit the community.” Eighteen years strong and counting, Camp Proverbs has expanded to include Camp Essence for young women, the Extra M.I.L.E. after-school experience, Coach Pep’s Prep Academy, and the Proverbs Youth Mentor Certification Program. The programs were formally incorporated into Proverbs Mentoring Organization four years ago, with the mission to enhance youth leadership skills by mentoring through community, academics, athletics, religion, and entrepreneurship.
Restoration Project Foundation CEO Craig Wooten has been actively involved with Proverbs for years, and when the opportunity for a partnership between the two organizations arose, Craig and Don immediately recognized the positive impact it would have on the community. RPF provides guidance, financial assistance, and volunteers so Proverbs can focus directly on the important work of supporting the kids, which it does with incredible dedication and success through the following programs:
Camp Proverbs and Camp Essence are two-week summer camps and mentoring programs for young men and young women in 6th – 12th grade. Mentees spend a week in sessions that help them grow in the areas of community service, academics, athletics, religion, and entrepreneurship. They also travel for a week to experience camping outside of their communities and attend a variety of events throughout the year. Most recently, mentees from both camps attended the Clemson University Men of Color National Summit and the Clemson University Women’s Roundtable.
The Extra M.I.L.E. (Meaningful Interactive Learning Experiences) is a year-round initiative for promoting extracurricular activities for students in need of extra support. Five to ten students a year can apply for funding for an extracurricular activity that is beyond the financial reach of their family. These activities include various musical instrument lessons, swimming, tennis, computer coding, robotics, reading programs, STEM camps, and more.
Based on the Camp Proverbs Mentoring Program and facilitated by the Restoration Project Foundation, Coach Pep’s Prep Academy (CPPA) is a year-round daily program that combines mentoring with academic instruction provided by the South Carolina Preparatory Academy, an online classical education charter school. Mentors engage with teachers, parents, and caregivers to ensure that students maintain their educational progress, while additional programming focuses on athletics, community service, and other skills development aimed at motivating students to succeed. CPPA is currently only open to young men, but the young women of Camp Essence have taken notice of the benefits it provides and have expressed serious interest in growing the program to include all students.
Proverbs Youth Mentor Certification is a training program designed to develop and empower mentors who work with youth in any capacity, including teachers and coaches. More than 30 people have successfully completed the course and all have gone on to become mentors at Proverbs and beyond.
Proverbs’ positive impacts on the community are immediately evident, with past mentees who are now high school seniors, college students, and professionals coming forward to serve as mentors. For Don, this is only the beginning of a life-long endeavor. “Mentoring and coaching is my niche, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to build trust and relationships with the families in my community,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for 18 years, but we’re just getting started.”
Interested in supporting Proverbs Mentoring Organization? Volunteers are welcome, particularly for Camp Proverbs and Camp Essence which will be operating at full throttle this year after two years of COVID-19-limited enrollment. Donations of recreational items, games, sports equipment, arts & crafts materials, water, Gatorade, and snacks are hugely helpful, as are donations provided to help underwrite all Proverbs programs. To learn more about how you can get involved, follow Proverbs on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mentoring4life or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To connect with another mentor partner site near you, please email us at email@example.com.