Passion for community service, both personally and professionally, led Jennifer Corinis and Lindsay Saxe Griffin, Assistant United States Attorneys in the office’s Civil Division, to develop the Lockhart “Lunch Buddies” Program.
Through her experiences with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay program, Lindsay learned that the need for volunteers and mentors at Lockhart Elementary Magnet School was big. After meeting with the school’s guidance counselor, social worker, and school administrators, the two AUSAs invited some of their colleagues to have lunch with students, just to be listening ears. The Office supported the idea, initially yielding 20 volunteers.
The school matched groups of 3-4 students with each pair of volunteers. Since late October, volunteers have visited with students during their 30 minute lunch period on a regular basis. The volunteer count has grown to 27 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Recently, the program has expanded to include agents from DEA and ATF, yielding an additional 17 volunteers.
During a mentor appreciation breakfast in December, the students prepared a program to honor their mentees. The chorus performed, U.S. Attorney Bentley spoke, the principal and members of the school board expressed their gratitude, and the staff produced a short video featuring the students expressing their gratefulness for their mentees. Student sentiments included, “thanks for teaching me how to act right,” “I love when my mentor talks to me about colleges,” “thanks for caring about me.”
The Lockhart Lunch Buddies Program is truly making a difference.