From February through September, SOHO staff begins recruiting mentors to work with the program’s pre-adolescent population. All prospective mentors must participate in a group orientation, fill out the SOHO online application, interview with the program, provide references and complete a background check.
SOHO staff receives referrals and conducts orientations and home visits with prospective mentees May through August.
In September, SOHO trains mentors and invites selected girls to participate in the program. Throughout the first month of SOHO, the primary focus is on developing group cohesion and identifying ideal mentor/mentee matches as relationships form. Mentor matches are announced in October and celebrated with mentor/mentee outings in the community. After the pairs are matched, SOHO hosts a Family Night where parents and mentors begin to build the essential foundation for their relationship. Mentors and parents engage in a goal-setting session where they discuss plans for the program year and begin brainstorming for the room renovation. Following Family Night, the mentors visit the girls’ homes to view the girls’ living spaces, take measurements and begin to develop a list of room renovation needs.
Throughout the school year, SOHO meets weekly, following this general schedule:
4:30 PM: SOHO mentees arrive, have a snack and begin their life skills lesson. During life skill class, girls participate in fun learning activities that promote positive self-image, communication and friendship. Girls also gain skills to resist peer pressure, manage anger and solve personal problems.
5:30 PM: Mentors arrive and a healthy dinner is served.
6:15 PM: Art class begins. Projects may include making rugs, wiring lamps, constructing personalized shelves, building lap desks or refinishing desks and chairs, making mosaic mirrors, sewing pillows, photography and planning their spaces for the room renovation.
7:40 PM: Clean up, closing circle and a SOHO cheer.
8:00 PM: Mentors drive their mentees home.
Community service events take place either in lieu of a weekly meeting or on the weekends, and may include volunteer activities such as supporting retirement communities, animal shelters and community clean-up events.
During the months of April and May, room renovations take place. Girls hold a community reception to showcase their art and present the group’s “before and after” room renovation video to family, friends, teachers and partnering organizations. At the event, girls and mentors receive an invitation to participate with their mentors in the second-year SOHO Club program that promotes long-term relationships throughout the middle and high school years and become lifelong members of the SOHO Sisterhood.