MEGA logo with SM May 2017

Spring 2020

Hello MEGA Mentors and Supporters!

We hope this newsletter finds you safe and in good health and spirits. Here's what's been happening with MEGA since the Fall 2019 newsletter.


Elementary school programs update


After an initial test run in 2018-19, the Ecoff Elementary School Lunch Buddy Program with its community partner Second Baptist Church of Chester got off to a rousing start this year with a meet and greet luncheon. Several parents, Ecoff staff including Principal Kristin Tait, School Board Representative Carrie Coyner and nine of the 10 students who participated in the test program.

The program’s project team, MEGA’s president Howard Corey, retired educators and PhD holders Dena Reams and Bobbie Anderson, and Ecoff reading specialist Julie Cheatham, were only able to partially review the program results due to COVID-19. However, what they did review was very encouraging. The students’ perception of themselves as readers, which had increased dramatically during test period, remained very high. Grades had increased by about 15% and student comments were incredibly positive.


The Reams Elementary Breakfast Buddy Program is in full effect with community partner Mt. Gilead International Church. Led by youth minister Rev. Daniel Robertson, students and mentors meet Monday mornings with the goal of increasing reading skills and helping students start their school week on a positive note. The preliminary survey showed promising results, but we were not able to administer the post survey for comparison due to the shutdown.


The Harrowgate Lunch Buddy Program with its community partner John Tyler Community College and Signs and Wonders Ministries Church started up in December under the direction of retired educator Laura Taylor. This program has attracted the attention of employees of the county and at least three have joined. As with the other schools, we were not able to obtain student results due to the school closing.


The Curtis Lunch Buddy Program with its community partners YMCA of Chester and Presbyterian Church of Chester was scheduled to start up the week CCPS schools closed due to COVID-19.


Providence MS receives award, recognition

Providence Middle was named the 2019 MEGA Mentors School of the Year during a ceremony March 3 where the school received a $5,000 award.

MEGA Mentors Greg Cummings, Gwen Epps and Thomas Manley presented the award to the school for supporting and exemplifying the four core MEGA Mentors values of respect, responsibility, effort and achievement.

Providence Principal Amanda Voekler, Assistant Principal Sandra Judge-Harden and the entire school staff attended the ceremony. Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Merv Daugherty was also present.

“The relationships that MEGA Mentors develop with our students help to create a more safe and nurturing learning environment,” said Daugherty. “Mentoring is a powerful opportunity that enriches the lives of all involved, and partnerships like this are critical to the success of our schools.”

Over the last decade, MEGA Mentors has donated over $50,000 for School of the Year STEM grants to help thousands of students across Chesterfield County meet their academic and social goals.

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(From left) Greg Cummings, Sandra Judge-Harden, Gwen Epps, Amanda Voelker and Merv Daugherty pose after Providence Middle School received a donation from MEGA Mentors Mar. 3, 2020. Courtesy photo.


MEGA awarded VISTA volunteer

MEGA Mentors was selected as a Host Site as part of the MENTOR Virginia AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) program.

Each year, MENTOR Virginia partners with Virginia-based organizations seeking to develop or enhance mentoring programs, to host one or more VISTA Members at their organization.

VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty through capacity-building and provides indirect service for organizations by creating and implementing programs that focus on poverty. This program is one of the ways MENTOR Virginia is helping mentoring programs to build capacity and strengthen best practices for the mentoring field.

Since 1965, over 220,000 VISTA Members have served at nonprofit, faith-based, government, and community agencies across the U.S., empowering millions of low-income individuals every year.

“We are very honored and look forward to starting our partnership with MENTOR Virginia as a VISTA Host Site,” said Greg Hillman, a MEGA Mentor who spearheaded the partnership between the organizations. “We look forward to the positive impact it will have on our programs and kids.”


Greg Cummings, MEGA's vice president of programming, accepts a donation during the Chesterfield Alumni Chapter's Founders Day celebration Jan. 4, 2020. Courtesy photo.

Delta Sigma Theta donates money to MEGA

The Chesterfield Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., awarded MEGA Mentors over $5,100 during the chapter's Founders Day celebration January 4 with thousands of South Atlantic Region Deltas in attendance.

Carolyn Bentley and Dalesa Mack-Grisby, who are also both MEGA Mentors, led the Community Public Service Initiatives fundraising efforts for the Chesterfield chapter. Mack-Grisby, who is an executive board member for both organizations, said public service is at the core of Delta Sigma Theta's mission.

"It was a pleasure presenting this award that will help MEGA's efforts to support the underrepresented young people attending Chesterfield County Public Schools."
Delta Sigma Theta has been a MEGA community partner since nearly MEGA’s beginning 10 years go.

“MEGA’s partnerships with community-focused organizations like Delta Sigma Theta embody the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” said Greg Cummings, MEGA’s vice president for programming. “We all have the common goal of arming our kids with as many tools as possible for success.”


(From left) Carolyn Bentley and Dalesa Mack-Grisby attend the Chesterfield Alumni Chapter's Founders Day celebration Jan. 4, 2020. Courtesy photo.


MEGA Mentor Larry Murphy speaks to Carver Academy students about the construction industry Feb. 24, 2020. Courtesy photo.

Speakers' Bureau at Carver Academy

Students at Carver Academy learned about the construction industry February 24 during a MEGA Speakers’ Bureau session.

Larry Murphy, a MEGA Mentor and owner of a local Class A general contracting firm, was the guest speaker spoke on a variety of topics, including the major shortage of skilled trade laborers such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians and masons. Murphy explained to the 45 students attending that this shortage is nation-wide and is projected to get worse. Raising awareness and interest, particularly in high schools, will hopefully help increase this labor force in the near-to-mid future.

“The students at Carver where very attentive and interested,” said Murphy, adding that 15 stayed after the session to gain more information. “I fully expect to see several pursuing this gratifying and fruitful career.”

Murphy, who is currently the president of the Homebuilders Association of Southside Virginia, said not everyone may want to go to college, and trade skills and schools are a great path to a great career. He recently spoke to other Chesterfield public school students as well as those in Colonial Heights and Petersburg.

“Student interest has been high so far,” said Murphy. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped any next steps in outreach for the time being.”

Murphy was the third in a series of MEGA-sponsored speakers at Carver Academy to speak on potential careers opportunities within the next 10 years.

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MEGA students participate in a group exercise during a Speakers' Bureau presentation at Thomas Dale High School Jan. 16, 2020. Photo by Brenda White.

Speakers' Bureau at Thomas Dale HS

Ninth grade MEGA students at Thomas Dale High School learned how to choose a career during a Speakers’ Bureau session January 16.

Guest speaker Robert Youngblood, a community outreach representative for Centura College and CEO of YB Connects, inspired the students to pursue their dream careers by recounting his personal journey after high school as an entrepreneur and business owner.

“If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, you will be successful,” he said.

Youngblood advised the students that wealth is a measurement of time and they should create something that outlives their lifetime. He elaborated on career choices that can transcend their lifetimes, such as music, art, creating video games, writing, fashion, athletics and engineering.

The students were encouraged to read thought-provoking books about becoming successful in and enjoying their career choices.

“Mr. Youngblood captivated the mentees’ attention with his crafty, humorous and interactive conversation,” said Brenda White, one of the MEGA liaisons at Thomas Dale. “He immediately connected with the students as he told of his humble childhood and the loss of his father at an early age.”

Youngblood emphasized to the students that applied knowledge is power. He encouraged them to focus on their gift and it will lead to their career. “If you do that, you’ll never a day in your life,” he said.


Robert Youngblood, a community outreach representative for Centura College and CEO of YB Connects, speaks to MEGA students about making career choices Jan. 16, 2020. Photo by Brenda White.

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Current and former Chesterfield County Public School officials mingle at the Fine Art Benefit & Sale Jan. 17, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.

Fine Art Benefit & Sale recap

MEGA’s 9th Annual Fine Art & Benefit Sale, or FABS, held Friday, January 17, was a resounding success. This year's featured artist was Leroy Campbell.

The 275 attendees mingled and enjoyed great food, music and exquisite artwork while helping MEGA celebrate 10 years of excellence and service. More than 110 corporate, business, community and individual patrons contributed to the second consecutive year of record fundraising.

Featured artist Leroy Campbell visited with Thomas Dale and Carver Middle January 16 where over 30 students at each school enthusiastically participated in a discussion of self-discovery through art. Students from Thomas Dale High and Providence Middle Schools art students entered their artwork in the FABS Silent Auction. All proceeds from these works were donated back to the schools' art programs; Thomas Dale received $379 and Providence received $365.

“We couldn’t have pulled off an event of this caliber without the hard work and dedication of the 30 member volunteers,” said Greg Cummings, MEGA’s vice president of programming and FABS Committee lead. “We are extremely grateful to them and all of our mentors, friends and supporters who help make our mission possible.”

Go to MEGA's website gallery page to view photos of this event and more.


Fine Art Benefit & Sale featured artist Leroy Campbell poses with Thomas Dale High School art students Jan. 16, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.


Fine Art Benefit & Sale featured artist Leroy Campbell poses with Carver Middle School art students Jan. 16, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.


Fine Art Benefit & Sale featured artist Leroy Campbell poses with event attendees Jan. 17, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.


Students and mentors pose during the Freedom Classic basketball game Jan. 18, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.

Freedom Classic Festival recap

MEGA students from Carver, Falling Creek, Manchester and Providence Middle Schools packed several school buses Jan. 19 on their way to the Freedom Classic Festival at the Virginia State University Multi-Purpose Center.

A total of 245 mentors, students, parents, guests and school coordinators attended the activities-packed weekend at VSU. Over 1,000 students and parents have attended this event over the past five years. Attending the Freedom Classic is one of the ways MEGA students are rewarded for excelling in their academics and discipline at their respective schools.

Rueben Turner, a Salem Church Middle School liaison, said his students greatly appreciated the opportunity to visit VSU during Black History Month and witness the excitement of two local rivals competing in this historic basketball classic.

“It was not just basketball that generated buzz for the students,” said Turner. “Many students were also inspired by the talented marching band and cheerleaders. It was a great, fun time as it is every year.”


MEGA students prepare to addend the Freedom Classic basketball game Jan. 19, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.


MEGA students pose in front of the VSU team banner during the Freedom Classic Festival Jan. 19, 2020. Photo by Trevon Facey.


MEGA needs committee members!

MEGA is also actively seeking volunteers for its committees:

1. Communication & Marketing (social media, internal and external communication)
2. Events (FABS, field trips, recognition event)
3. Finance
4. Fundraising & Development
5. Membership, Training & Recruiting
6. Programs & Curriculum
7. Technology (website, FABS tech support)
1. Communication & Marketing (social media, internal and external communication)
2. Events (FABS, field trips, recognition event)
3. Finance
4. Fundraising & Development
5. Membership, Training & Recruiting
6. Programs & Curriculum
7. Technology (website, FABS tech support)

If you're interested in joining and aren't already a member, please fill out a membership application online at If you're already a member, please contact us at: If you have general questions, please email us at:

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