National Mentoring Month

Aleena learning to fly

Celebrating volunteers serving as mentors to foster youth

Promises2Kids has been creating a brighter future for foster children in San Diego for 40 years. Thanks to the community’s support, over 200,000 abused and neglected children have been supported through Promises2Kids. January is National Mentoring Month – a time to celebrate volunteers serving as mentors to foster youth. For foster youth, having connections is critical to their success and mentors are often their primary connection.

Aleena entered foster care at age five and was separated from her five siblings. Moving homes and schools more than 20 times before 16, Aleena never knew what stability was. “I felt unwanted and alone… like nobody cared. I was literally by myself, and it was the scariest feeling in the world.”

Fast forward to 2020 when Aleena, now a parent, was accepted as a Promises2Kids Guardian Scholar. She now has the reliable support system she longed for. Mentoring empowers her to never give up on her dreams. Just over a year ago, she was paired with her Promises2Kids mentor Lisa Susca, who has been instrumental in her life. Whether it is over coffee or lunch, the two always enjoy their time together. Lisa has two daughters and is also a grandmother, so has proven to be the perfect match for Aleena.

“I cannot say enough great things about Aleena. She is an excellent mom and works so hard. She is sweet, has grit and is determined. She is appreciative of any help or advice I can offer. If you want to be someone who contributes to humanity and can have an impact on someone’s life, you should be a mentor.” Lisa has helped Aleena with scholarship applications, looking into colleges and has taken her shopping for professional clothing.

When Aleena first got her apartment, Lisa was there. “During Covid, I was struggling and did not know what to do. She told me that I have come so far and could overcome this hurdle. She does not look at me like a foster youth, rather as any other young adult. Lisa is like a mother to me. She does not judge me for my background and where I came from. She pushes me to be a better mom. She is someone I can always count on, which is something I have never had before. I appreciate her every time I talk to her,” said Aleena.

Aleena also has a leadership coach – Danielle Jackson (also a Promises2Kids volunteer). Danielle has taught her about public speaking and elevator pitches, professionally presenting herself, the importance of networking, and more. She continues to prepare Aleena for life after graduation.

Today, Aleena juggles motherhood, school, and a job. While being a single mom of three, she currently works for Alaska Airlines and is enrolled at Miramar College. Aleena will graduate in spring 2022 with an AA in Professionalism in Aeronautics. Her goal is to earn a Master’s in Aeronautics and become a pilot. “I am so thankful I applied for Guardian Scholars. Without Promises2Kids, I would not be this stable. A mentor is there to have your back, encourage you, uplift you, move beyond your past, and grow with you in a way that you need,” shared Aleena.

Aleena has overcome many obstacles and is determined to make her dreams come true.

You can help youth like Aleena. Please make a gift or volunteer today at

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Esteban Villanueva