When author, pastor, motivational speaker and former NCAA basketball coach Mike Jarvis meets a new person he really looks into their eyes, genuinely eager to get to know them.
This habit, of making the person he is with the center of his universe in that moment, is no doubt what makes Jarvis, whose last basketball coaching job was at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in 2014, an effective communicator, mentor and coach.
One could imagine his focus on someone would encourage that person to feel he is totally committed to them, which, in turn, hopefully instills in them the courage, character and confidence to go into the community and achieve their goals.
The seven words that begin with “c” in the previous paragraphs — confidence, courage, character, commitment, communication, community and coach — were the “Seven C’s of Leadership and Mentoring” that Jarvis shared in his keynote speech before a crowd of 550 attending The 11th annual Take Stock in Children of Manatee County Leadership Prayer Breakfast on Thursday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Having a mentor is not what kids think it is. Mentoring is a lot more than, ‘Oh, you have to do this, do that, stay on the right path.’ They are there for you emotionally and spiritually. They will always be there for you if you have issues going on. It’s not necessarily all about school. Students and mentors create a bond and that is probably one of the best things about the program.
Jailene Salazar, Take Stock in Children student
Based on applause and nods of approval in the room, Jarvis’ “C’s” seemed to be well-received, perhaps due to the fact that the room was filled with mentors with the Take Stock in Children program, parents who have seen mentoring work in their children and scores of Manatee County leaders in education, law enforcement, government and business who daily use the seven “C’s.
But with all due respect to Jarvis, he didn’t steal the show Thursday. That honor went to the eighth “C” — the children.
Ishmael, Jailene, Sebastian, Richecar and Davis steal show
Five Take Stock in Children students told the audience how the program, which provides mentors and college scholarships for students from low-income families, has changed their lives.
Ishmael Rolle, 17, a junior at the State College of Florida Collegiate School, won the crowd over with his sense of humor and gift of gab. His mentor is Ghingo Brooks. Rolle plans on becoming either a clinical psychologist or computer programer.
“I applied a couple of years ago and, by some miracle of nature I actually slipped through and became one of the lucky ones to receive this wonderful scholarship,” Rolle said. “Now I can attend any four-year college I want.”
Richecar Polinice, 21, came to the stage with her mentor, Jamie Bennett. Polinice is a junior at the University of Central Florida. In her moving speech she outlined how she was an example of a youth who wouldn’t be on a career path without Take Stock in Children.
“Take Stock in Children lives up to its mission statement,” Polinice told the crowd. “Their efforts in breaking the cycle of poverty by helping students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds with mentoring support is evident.”
Polinice is on track to be a physician’s assistant.
When Manatee High School senior Jailene Salazar spoke, her mentor, Tracy Szelwach, was standing close by and her parents were in the audience.
“Having a mentor is not what kids think it is,” Salazar said before she went on stage. “Mentoring is a lot more than, ‘Oh, you have to do this, do that, stay on the right path.’ They are there for you emotionally and spiritually. They will always be there for you if you have issues going on. It’s not necessarily all about school. Students and mentors create a bond and that is probably one of the best things about the program.”
Salazar plans to attend USF Sarasota-Manatee in the fall.
Take Stock student Davis Moeckel, 22, whose proud mentor, Jim Wolfson, stood near him as he spoke, recently graduated from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee in December with a degree in finance. He is now working in his field.
“Take Stock was definitely very helpful for me in high school,” Moeckel said. “It’s just having someone there to help me make sure I am on top of my assignments and setting goals for myself and improving my life.”
Sebastian Espinel, 18, has two mentors, Herb Moller and Rick Salomone. He is graduating from Braden River High this year and plans to attend Wake Forest University to study business.
“They have supported me as a student and a person,” Espinel said. “My mentors mean a lot to me.”
The breakfast was also a fundraiser and had raised close to the breakfast goal of $150,000 with more checks expected, said Take Stock Executive Director Jamie Serino.