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At-risk girls treated to mentorship, tea party


A group of at-risk girls in Wilmington got a unique chance to meet and chat with women from various career fields last week.

The group of girls from Parkway Academy - an alternative middle and high school  - walked into a room with finger sandwiches, tea, and other treats. But they weren’t there just for the food. Women representing various careers were also there to meet them.

The tea party is just one part of a larger initiative started by the school’s Director of Student Services Charlotte Lacy called Rites of Passage - I am My Sister’s Keeper.

The goal is to provide at-risk girls ages 12-18 with positive mentors who’ve overcome hardships in their lives like the ones the girls face.


“We need to take them under our wing," Lacy said. "We need to have that 'rites of passage' that so many that were in my age group – we had the ladies, we were able to sit at their feet, to listen to their stories, to get the should dos and should not dos – young girls don’t have that today.”

Martina Sudler is an inspector with the Wilmington Fire Department, and the first Hispanic woman firefighter in the First State. She’s been homeless, witnessed her father’s suicide at the age of four and been a victim of domestic violence.

“I had nothing," Sudler said. "All I kept saying is this is not how I want my child to grow up if I choose to have children. And the minute I became pregnant with my daughter I knew I did not want her to go through what I went through.”

Sudler says she had to rely on an inner strength to keep pushing on. She wanted the girls to know that they can accomplish anything they want as long as they stay strong and keep moving forward.


“I took it upon myself to look at my surroundings and say this is not where I want to be," Sudler said. "With a lot of the females today I want to be able to give them that guidance to know that you still can – regardless of your background – move forward.”


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