It was another inspirational Mentor Appreciation Night as PYD celebrated the success of participants and mentors on November 12.
Lisa Matrundola was named Mentor of the year. PYD Mentoring Specialist Jordy Lome said, “Lisa illustrates a mentor with a strong sense of volunteerism, commitment, and loyalty to their match.” Lisa has been matched with her mentee Tatiana for a year and a half and they have nurtured a strong bond of advocacy, as well as focused on career-readiness and leadership skills.
“Lisa and Tatiana have inspired each other to achieve their goals and see the endless possibilities in their future,” Jordy said.
Tatiana introduced Lisa and explained how their relationship has impacted her. “She has advocated for many people including people with disabilities and makes it easier for their rights to be respected and heard,” Tatiana said. Tatiana also mentioned that with Lisa being her mentor, she was the first person with a disability to teach her the rights of people with disabilities so she could in turn learn and speak up for herself and others.
In accepting the award, Lisa said “I am proof that mentoring still works. I know this first-hand. Without my mentors, I absolutely would not be here today. I have been blessed with many mentors who have impacted my life over the years. Growing up with a disability (Cerebral Palsy) during the ’60s and ’70s was very difficult. There were very few programs and services for people with disabilities when I was growing up.”
Keisha Greaves, CEO and Founder of Girls Chronically Rock clothing brand spoke about the importance of mentors in her life. Diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in 2009, Keisha persisted toward her goal of becoming an entrepreneur and fashion designer. Keisha has been a mentor to PYD participants and hosted PYD’s first virtual intern this past summer with much success.
PYD Participants received the following awards:
The Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award was presented to longtime PYD participant, Kavon, who shares Rayleen’s joyful spirit. According to Access To Theater (ATT) Movement Director Maureen Finnerty, “Kavon brings his contagious happiness, laughter, and a giant smile to each session of ATT. He enthusiastically tries anything and is very supportive of other group members.”
Cody was named the Chris Dunne Peer Leadership recipient. Access to Theater (ATT) Artistic Director Deep Chinappa called Cody “motivated, hardworking, thoughtful and a great leader that inspires. He has done this at YLF (Youth Leadership Forum) and ATT. Cody showed his resiliency to the pandemic during his speech when he remarked, “coming into 2020 I was expecting to have a normal year full of events and traveling and being in Boston for 2 weeks as I did ATT. Everything I had in store was gone due to COVID-19. I wondered ‘what am I gonna do’ and the doors started opening up for me. I did YLF, the summer ATT as well as the mentoring workshops run by Deep.”
The Greg Dees and Anita McGahan Career Readiness award went to Simone Malki. Career Readiness Specialist Emma Kahn worked closely with Simone and said, “her commitment, hard work, and graciousness make her an excellent peer to her classmates and a true joy to be around.” Simone learned much in the Career Readiness program, remarking it, “helped me as a person because it allowed me to better communicate with people and ask questions. Now it helps me to better express myself and understand how to navigate relationships with other people. I feel like I have better skills and confidence that will help me become successful in the future.”
Mentoring Specialist Antonela Prifti presented the LENS Rising Star award to Derrik Jones, who first joined PYD this past Spring after becoming a mentee in the LENS program (through Massachusetts Commission for the Blind). In June, Derrick interned for PYD, completing financial related tasks. Antonela noted that Derrick approached all projects and tasks with enthusiasm. “Now, he continues to be part of the LENS community as a devoted mentee working with another long-time PYD mentor, Nick Corrbett.”