Valerie Sherrer believes inner-city girls and boys need more attention.
As operational director for Novo Ministries, she helps the organization’s efforts to provide mentoring programs for inner-city kids in Oklahoma City.
“We’ve taken care of the physical part of our city. Now, let’s take care of the soul of our city, the people,” she said.
Novo is a faith-based ministry that began in 2005 with a goal of connecting individuals and members of churches and organizations to reach out to the children in the city.
Its primary program is mentoring. The process starts with teaching volunteers and staff who invest their time in the children and have strong relationships with them so they can learn positive values.
Mentoring takes place in elementary schools and in low-rent housing projects throughout the area.
“There are over 20 church partners and over 250 volunteers who have been working with the kids,” Sherrer said. “There are also 17 program sites, 40 churches and other organizational partners involved in helping.”
Referrals to local agencies are given to families in need of help with food, clothing and other financial assistance. In some cases, families will be helped anonymously.
A face and a name
While volunteering in the Oklahoma City Public Schools, Sherrer began to observe some of the obstacles and realities kids were facing, such as academic challenges or not having someone who was able to be home after school.
“Statistics that I heard about on the news or saw in the paper now had a face and a name,” Sherrer said. “There was a lack of hope and a lack of realizing that they were created for a purpose.”
Sherrer felt a desire to create that hope and instill a sense of purpose in these children. She said volunteering and then having had her mother diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer gave her more of a perspective on life.
Sherrer began searching for a way to provide an opportunity for girls and boys in the community to find hope.
“People come together and embrace something when they realize this is our city, our people,” she said. “These children are facing realities that many of us have never faced or heard about.”
DID YOU KNOW?
More about Novo Ministries