McClendon is all about mentoring

Photo of Jenia McClendon courtesy: McClendon

When passion meets purpose, anything is possible. Jenia McClendon, a third-year social work major at Florida A&M from West Palm Beach, has known from a very young age that mentorship and advocating for the future generation was her “why.”

McClendon works tirelessly to become the person she wished she had had in her life growing up. With the understanding that her young age provides her with a unique mindset, she focuses on influencing young girls in the best way possible.

When she was younger, McClendon faced obstacles. The Department of Children and Families was in and out of her life, and she spent some of her childhood in foster care.

McClendon says her experiences in foster care inspired her to create a program bigger than herself.

“DCF was in and out of my life,” McClendon said. “I cannot exactly remember why I was taken away from my family, but I know that experience truly changed my life for the better. I wanted to help children who were lost and didn’t know where to turn to next. I wanted to create a program that allowed children to know that they are not alone, and someone is there to help them. With this, I found my purpose to become a social worker.”

After confirming her purpose in life, McClendon was committed to putting her plans into action. In the summer of  2019, she was created a nonprofit mentoring program named Sister Sister.

“Sister Sister Mentoring Group is a program used to connect with young girls in my community and become their mentor,” McClendon said. “We have weekly meetings, fun activities, community service and fundraising events. I want to ultimately create a sisterhood where we can grow and learn from each other, but also have a mentoring aspect.”

Since she started her mentoring program, McClendon has hosted numerous community service and mentoring events. In December of 2022, McClendon hosted a vision board party named, “Write the Vision.” By providing food, drinks and entertainment, Sister Sister gave 15 community members the chance to write down their goals for the upcoming year

“I want this to become an annual event that I do for the community,” McClendon said.

McClendon has left an everlasting impression on her mother and sister, Darlene Gaitor and Frankie Gones, who shared what they felt about McClendon’s character.

“Jenia is a caring, determined young lady,” Gones said. “She is full of life, always trying to help others, and is open to other people’s ideas. Jenia has an amazing heart and has always been passionate about her work. She is a go-getter and never gives up.”

“Jenia has been through a lot, so to see her still come out on top and not become selfish tells a lot about that person,” Gaitor said. “She wants to improve the lives of others, so for me to witness that makes me so proud of the person my daughter is becoming.”

McClendon plans to officially re-launch Sister Sister this summer and encourages others to follow her Instagram page @sistersiister for more event updates.