Four named Michigan's Mentors of the Year
The Mentor of the Year award honors an individual who has made a significant difference in a child's life over time through mentoring.
This year the Michigan Community Service Commission honored:
Donald M. Ferguson is the program coordinator for 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, which aims to improve the quality of life in the African American community through collective resources, abilities and experiences. He helps to organize several programs each year, including Project Success that helps young men enhance life skills and has a near 100 percent graduation rate. Ferguson, an Eagle Scout and former U.S. Army Signal Corps officer, has been a guest speaker for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and Harvard University. He was named the 2018 Mentor of the Year by 100 Black Men of America. Donald goes above and beyond with his mentees as he continues to mentor them after they have graduated high school, serving more than 500 hours annually. Donald’s selfless efforts have not only had a lasting impact on the young men that he mentored but also on the Detroit community. “The 100 Black Men of Detroit has greatly impacted my life and set me on a very positive track towards career and life success,” said one mentee. “Project Success is a critical program that changed my life!”
Charles Johnson has made elevating the lives of youth in the city of Detroit his No. 1 priority for directing his volunteer efforts. For nearly nine years, he served as a mentor with the Winning Futures program. Through this program, he has inspired and prepared youth to become successful within their career choices through life skills development, workforce preparation and obtaining scholarships. As an alumnus of Detroit Public Schools, Charles has always made it his passion to ensure that the youth of his community have a positive role model and mentor available to them. Even years after the youth are no longer in the program, they feel comfortable contacting Charles when they need assistance. Recently one of his mentees had moved to a new state and was having difficulty finding employment while he was attending college. Charles secured a job for this young man, making it possible for him to complete his education. Charles has mentored and impacting Detroit youth by ensuring they have access to opportunities and assisting them to become strong contributors in their community.
Grant Smith was inspired when he began mentoring and creating life changing experiences for his 11-year-old mentee, Andrew, and his brother, Aaron, in 2010. Their mother speaks of the phenomenal impact he has had on her children’s lives. Grant has given them the opportunity to become involved with various activities and encouraged them to grow and learn. He supported them to play sports, attend career exploration programs and achieve academically. He also serves to make sure other youth have the same opportunity to be mentored. Grant is the volunteer president of the Waterford Youth Assistance program where he recruits mentors and networks with local organizations to provide resources. He is continuously making positive changes with the best interest of youth in mind. Grant’s compassion for mentoring one young man, grew to supporting an entire mentoring program and resulted in solidifying the program’s viability to serve Waterford families. His actions are not conducted to embellish his resume, but instead are rooted in a genuine desire to help youth.
Stacie Zotkovich has served more than 10,000 hours to mentor, inspire and empower young women. The former Mrs. Michigan advocates for anti-bullying and suicide prevention by mentoring with a focus on self-identity and mindfulness. She has served over 2,700 hours in several public schools to encourage young women to build positive self-esteem, health and wellness. Stacie has also volunteered as a Girls on the Run coach, providing elementary school girls mental, fundamental and physical skills utilized in everyday life. She has served 1,200 hours with the program since 2014, playing a key role in the development of young girls. Stacie has volunteered with nearly 100 other community organizations, serving as a motivational speaker, fundraiser and any other way she can help those in need. She uses her amazing optimism and passion to support others to identify how they can make a difference. Stacie has impacted the lives of countless young girls and aided their development into strong women. “Her positive words and motivation really helped me to strengthen myself when I thought I couldn’t,” said one student.