The Torrance City Council recently recognized the Torrance Refinery’s League of Black Professionals (LoBP) at the February 4, 2020 City Council meeting for community engagement and the positive impact LoBP has had on the Torrance community through its partnership in the North High School (NHS) Mentoring Program.

Accepting a Proclamation presented by Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey were Torrance Refinery employee mentors, NHS student mentees (members of NHS’s Young Black and Educated Club), Club sponsor Coach Todd Croce and school Principal Chris Sheck. “We at the City are very thankful for what you do for the young people in our community because the youth in our community are not just the future anymore, they are the now,” said Mayor Furey. “They are now the ones taking over leadership roles and [there’s] no better way to do it than from the professionals themselves and instill in the young people the drive to go further.”

The program idea came about when Torrance City Councilman Milton Herring, Torrance Unified School District Superintendent Dr. George Mannon, and fourth-generation Torrance Refinery employee and veteran Mike Mitchell Jr. happened to meet at the city’s Armed Forces Day Celebration and discussed a growing need for mentoring. Mitchell, an LoBP member, saw this as an opportunity for his Refinery colleagues to make a meaningful impact in our city and in the black communities many of them call home.

The Mentoring program offers a safe environment for mentees to explore topics unique to Black communities in America, while exposing them to tools and resources to help shape their reality and chart their future. Eight LoBP mentors make time each month to meet with 15 mentees before school starts. Respectful, authentic dialogue and sharing of life experiences, skills and insights, help the students gain a better understanding of themselves, a deeper sense of responsibility and empowerment to help transform their environments and shape their future. In this exchange, the mentors also learn from the student’s perspectives and insights.

NHS Principal Sheck is grateful for the support afforded his students, “Each one of these mentors has a unique story and path to success. No one individual has the same experiences or journey, which allows them the agency to advocate and share their expertise and insight. They speak into the lives of our students and help them find their own voice…I am very proud of our students for engaging in this priceless process and seeing the value of having mentors to speak into their lives.”

Mentee Shaveeon added, “This program has been such a great help to me because now I am able to talk more and communicate with people in my community. It has also impacted me by allowing me to be my complete self and know my input does matter.” Parent Traci Herbert whose daughter Aria participates in the program shared, “The mentoring program has been such a wonderful addition to Aria’s academic growth. The mentors have shown my daughter what great role models look like. These aren’t actors or athletes, but strong black professionals in our community who graciously share their knowledge and experience of the working world and their personal development. She is better prepared in continuing her education, becoming a well-rounded individual in the next phase of her life with more confidence and determination.” 

The success of the Torrance Refinery LoBP-North High School mentoring partnership is now being seen as a model for other potential mentor programs in the city with other student groups.

Click here to view the story in Torrance CitiCABLE’s This Week in Torrance.