Since 1995, Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County has helped over 1,000 children from economically distressed families achieve their higher education aspirations.
Former Take Stock in Children mentee Meghan Hurtado, who was enrolled in the program over 15 years ago, is just one of many who received life-changing assistance from the nonprofit.
Hurtado’s mentor Ruth Manishin helped her overcome numerous challenges early in her life, supporting her in graduating from Palm Beach Lakes High School in the top five of the class of 2005.
Hurtado, 35, a graduate of Florida State University, recently reunited with her past mentor Ruth Manishin, 90, in Lantana, reminiscing about the bond they formed over a decade ago.
“Having Miss Ruth as my mentor was amazing,” said Hurtado, who grew up in a low-income, single-mother family with six siblings. “She always showed up for me and that made me want to show up for her. Whenever she would challenge me with anything, anytime, we would talk about any struggles I was facing, especially growing up the way I did.
“My mom only had a third-grade education,” she said. “So, she wasn’t as well-versed or helpful when it came to academic stuff and those struggles. Having someone that was college-educated there to help me and guide me… Whenever I would have my own mental roadblocks that I put up, she would really just help me knock them right down.”
Hurtado graduated from FSU with a degree in finance and risk management and later went on to marry her high school sweetheart and become a mother of two.
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Manishin first met Hurtado after signing on as a volunteer mentor with Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County. Manishin, a retired educator, talked about how their bond grew over time, resulting in Hurtado overcoming notable hurdles in her life.
“When I first met Meghan she was in the fifth grade,” Manishin said. “She was a little reluctant to speak because we didn’t really have a relationship. By the following year, I would take her out of class — because she was just in the sixth grade — for a walk around the school for about 30 minutes.
“She told me one day that she didn’t know what to do,” Manishin said. “The teacher had suggested that she go into the science fair, but she didn’t want to go. She had a partner, but she was afraid. I said, ‘What are you afraid of?’ and she said, ‘What if I lose?’ I said to her, ‘What’s the worst that can happen if you lose?’… So we talked about losing, and she went into the science fair and she won.”
Serving 29 middle and high schools in Palm Beach County, the nonprofit awards college scholarships to students who complete its four-year program, agree to keep their GPA up, maintain good behavior in school and spend time with their mentors on a regular basis.