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February Jefferson Award: Mentoring the Next Generation

February Jefferson Award 2022
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 10:04 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – Nashauna Johnson-Lenoir grew up in foster care in the inner city of Chicago. Later in life she became a teen mom, struggled with mental health, became homeless and survived domestic violence. But instead of allowing these experiences to define her...Nashauna is using the lessons she’s learned to guide the next generation.

“We basically teach them all the things we wish we had known as kids now that we’re adults that could have helped us become better adults.”

She’s doing this through her life skills program, Journie, which she started in 2009. This grant and donation-funded program has an 8 week curriculum for teens ages 13 to 18. During those 8 weeks, teens are paired with a mentor and will learn about money management, accountability, the importance of education and relationships.

Rosalind Moore went through the Journie program in her early teenage years, and recently graduated from the University of Minnesota. She says that the program helped her become the woman that she is today.

“Journie has really helped me with giving me leadership opportunities that I didn’t know I could occupy and helped me learn how to take up space with my truth and my voice.”

Rosoland has continued volunteering with Nashauna, and both of them have big goals to expand the program to Atlanta and Minneapolis, and implement it in school districts as an alternative to disciplinary action. In order to do that, they need more support from the community.

“It’s been very difficult 2020 and 2021 for us to try to stay afloat, especially with the YMCA closing, that was our home where we held our workshops. We’ve been paying out of pocket expenses which has been very hard, and we don’t have enough staff. We’re in high demand and we have a lot of youth who are still in our program who need our services but it’s very hard with just the two of us. We need more staff.”

If you’d like to donate or become a mentor with Journie, you can find more information here: https://journieproject.weebly.com/

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