Mentors Barb and Mark Lurie give it their all
Barbara (Barb) Lurie discovered Partnership Scholars Program about four years ago while helping a friend, Dr. George Ferenczi, find a local organization to invest in. “I did some research and found out about the PSP program,” says Barb, recalling that a relative of a friend was involved in the program and initially introduced her to PSP. After connecting George with organization’s founder, Dr. Glenn Langer, Barb decided that she and her husband Mark Lurie would become volunteer mentors and started working with students in Lennox.
Now, Barb and Mark team up together as co-mentors and have taken on some of the program’s older scholars. “The first year we got ‘orphans’ who had lost their mentors,” says Barb. “Our first scholars are now juniors in college; they were juniors in high school when we got started.” Having kept up with the now college students, Barb and Mark get together with their former scholars from time to time for dinner. “The biggest pleasure now is to get together with some of the kids that we started with who are in college now,” agrees Mark.
Allowing many of their students to have opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have is central to their mentorship with PSP. “We have one kid whose father was completely disabled by a stroke, his mother didn’t speak English and cares for his father,” says Barb. “It was really gratifying to get to expose him to things he wouldn’t normally get to do.” She adds, “When we signed up to be mentors, we were hoping to enrich the students’ lives a bit but we didn’t realize how much we ourselves would be enriched.” As the two do not have children of their own, they have found mentoring to be an eye-opening experience, giving them insight into “what it’s like to have teenagers.”
“The Luries are committed to making sure every student has someone to mentor and guide them at all times,” says PSP Executive Director, Lisa Ruben. “Not only that, but they do so much for other scholars too. They organize annual events at USC’s football and basketball games and have chaperoned college trips and the college access retreat.”
Part of what makes Barb and Mark’s work with their scholars so exceptional is their own dedication to volunteerism. Specifically at this time of year, when many organizations look for extra help, the Luries bring their scholars along to volunteer with them at one of their favorite charities. “Every week Mark and I volunteer at the Junior Blind of America, so we have taken our kids there every year,” says Barb. “We take them to volunteer for their Christmas festival, it’s a very fun experience. We have them help with arts and crafts.” The Luries feel it’s important to engender the values of giving back. “They are recipients of volunteerism right now so I think it’s important for them to pay it forward and volunteer themselves,” says Barb.