CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Many of our ‘Remarkable Women’ are making a difference not because of what they do themselves, but what they do for others. Among them is Emily Cruse, who helps one child at a time at the Saint Julian Devine Community Center.
Cruse has a passion for children, and she’s spent decades helping them learn.
“When I started working in the school, what I noticed is a lot of times … our kids needed more community,” she said.
Community – something Cruise is building the grassroots way by focusing time and resources on individual children.
“I love the kids, and they don’t see a lot of consistency. Year after year, we see a whole flux of new teachers come in, new administrators come in.”
Be A Mentor is a local non-profit that pairs school-aged children with local adult mentors across all professions and disciplines. It also provides a spot to go after school to do homework, work on reading skills, make art, or just have a snack in a safe place.
“People are always wanting to give, and if you can direct them, listen to the community, and direct them how to give best, it’s just amazing the things we are doing,” she said. “I am seeing confidence built in kids, parents having more trust in us.”
Cruse lights up when talking about all the programs she works with. But it is obvious one group had a special hold on her… a group of middle school-aged girls.
“Girls, especially, seem to be really lost, and they need someone to talk to. I think it’s just really imperative that you see something they are good at, and you speak life into them, and speak things into existence, and expose them to the opportunities that are available to them.”
Opportunities like fashion camp, horseback riding, and trips to the theater are all arranged by Cruse.
Her longtime friend, and no recent volunteer in the after-school program, Hunter Genovese, nominated Cruse as a Remarkable Woman.
“She is just genuinely the most beautiful person, inside and out, like she just genuinely cares; she is the type of person who every time she sees you is going to ask how are you, what’s going on. If something is off, she will be like I can tell you are a little quiet today, what’s wrong, I’m here for you. She’s just always there, probably too much, because I don’t think she puts herself first enough.”
Genovese said that during her time at Be A Mentor, Cruse signed on hundreds of new mentors and volunteers.
“Just hearing her talk about it so passionately, in the community, with everyone she meets, it’s kind of like infectious. Everyone wants to become a mentor after they talk to Emily.”
But for Cruse, the opportunity to win the Remarkable Women grant just means more resources she can spend on the kids and giving them a place where they are loved.
“At the end of the day, that’s what we are all about, is that kids feel like they can be themselves,” she said.
If you are interested, Be A Mentor is actively accepting volunteers and donations. You can learn more about their mission and ways to help at beamentornow.org.