Magistrate founds faith-based mentoring program for tweens and teens

As a senior magistrate for the island of Abaco, Ancella Evans sees social ills that affect the community firsthand.

Recognizing the role that the church and civil society play in tackling social problems, Evans and banker Hadassah Marche founded a faith-based mentoring program for girls ages 10 through 18.

The program called GORGEOUS was launched recently at the Friendship Tabernacle Church in Dundas Town, Abaco.

GORGEOUS is an acronym for godly, outstanding, respectful, genuine, excellent, outspoken, unique and smart – qualities that the program seeks to instill in its participants.

Additionally, Evans said the eight-month-long program is designed to instill self-esteem in girls, as many social ills stem from lack of self-esteem. Guest speakers teach the girls etiquette, health, budgeting and more.

The program, which provides free transportation and refreshments, is funded by sponsors and is designed to be a companion to other initiatives, according to Evans. Meetings are held monthly.

“We don’t want cost to be a prohibitive factor. The program is unique because the parents can actually accompany their child to the meetings,” she said.

Evans said she decided to start the program after her mother died in January.

“When she died, I thought about how she had impacted my life in so many ways. As a senior magistrate, I have been on the bench for 14 years, I have seen so many girls come through system, and you can see from the probation reports and, based on what they say, so many of them are lacking mentors.”

This weighed heavily on Evans. She said after praying about what she could do to help her community, GORGEOUS was the result.

Evans discussed the idea with Marche, the program’s co-founder, who immediately got on board. Marche’s 10-year-old daughter is the first member of the program.

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