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Meet Andrea D. Mason of Professionals Assisting Youth in Riverdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea D. Mason.

Andrea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Savannah, GA. Growing up, I watched my parents help everyone from neighbors to church members, to strangers, so helping people came naturally. However, my passion intensified when I began my 17-year career in social services. Working with youth from families of various backgrounds and needs gave me a new perspective on how to help youth with characteristics or experiences that make them vulnerable.

Engaging, helping, and building professional relationships with families provided a deeper understanding of their experiences and how those experiences affected their lives. It also provided a deeper understanding of how to help youth and that understanding that goes far beyond what I learned when earning college degrees.

Has it been a smooth road?
I have encountered numerous challenges; however, those challenges made me a stronger person and fueled my determination and drive. At times challenges made it difficult to follow my passion. However, I believe that when you find your passion you find your purpose.

I’ve overcome personal challenges and the challenges that go along with working in a high-stress environment. Working in the field of social services is rewarding and challenging. At times, the long hours and work-related stress work made it difficult to pursue a Doctoral degree and maintain a work-life balance. However, I love working in social services, and I am still pursuing a Doctoral degree. Adding the responsibilities that come with owning a business was/is challenging. It takes a lot of faith, time, patience, physical and emotional work, and dedication to develop a successful nonprofit organization. Therefore, time management is critical and that is something that I am still improving to ensure that Professionals Assisting Youth, Inc. is successful.

Locating funding can be difficult for a new nonprofit organization. People want to ensure that you are truly providing services and funding is being used appropriately. There are thousands of nonprofits applying for the same grants and other funding opportunities. However, I haven’t allowed funding to hinder my mission of helping youth. It is important for me to be active in the community so the community knows that P.A.Y.’s staff are making a difference. Right now, I want to ensure that people learn about the great work we are doing in the community, I believe that funding will come as P.A.Y. grows.

Locating dedicated mentors is also challenging. Mentoring youth is a big responsibility and it takes time to build a trusting relationship. Therefore, I stress that mentors must be committed to helping youth.

Please tell us about Professionals Assisting Youth.
P.A.Y., a youth mentoring program, was founded based on the knowledge that youth need meaningful guidance and support to help them make decisions that allow them to reach their full potential. This knowledge was gained through research, education, training and certifications, community engagement, and 15 years of experience as a Social Services Specialist, Special Investigator, and Supervisor with the Department of Human Services, specifically Child Protective Services.

In addition to mentoring services, P.A.Y. staff hosts free youth workshops that include, but are not limited to college and career readiness, leadership, emotional skills, academics, improving self-esteem and prevention of adolescent violence, pregnancy, bullying, substance abuse, We network with other organizations and professionals who participate in the workshops to ensure that we cover a variety of topics that benefit our youth.

P.A.Y.’s program also includes journaling. Journaling improves self-awareness, writing skills, and provides youth with an outlet to privately share their personal feelings and emotions. Therefore we provide journals to youth. Youth are not required to share their journal writings.

We are working to implement a leadership program in which participants will learn leadership skills, be paired with professionals in their chosen field, engage others in the community, obtain community service hours, and improve their emotional self-awareness.

P.A.Y.’s mission is to provide professional mentoring and coaching services that inspire and empower at-risk youth in the community to make positive life choices that aid them in reaching their full potential.

Our slogan – Professionals Mentors and Coaches paying it forward by helping the youth of today become the leaders of tomorrow.

I am most proud that we are reaching youth who want to remain on the path to a bright future and/or make life changes.

What sets P.A.Y. apart from others – P.A.Y. staff have backgrounds in social services and have worked with families for years. Therefore, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge of how to help youth address challenges. We have worked with youth with a variety of experiences. P.A.Y. mentors males and females and our mentors are community-based.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
South Fulton/ South Atlanta is a good place for a youth mentoring program. Being tasked with locating programs to aid families brought my attention to the limited amount of programs in the area. As previously stated, I also conducted research and engaged youth and found that there is a need for the program. I would recommend starting out in this area because this area is growing and there will never be too many programs that help youth. There will always be something that sets programs and businesses apart. So each program is special and one program cannot reach everyone.

Pricing:

  • – P.A.Y.’s youth workshops are free
  • – P. A.Y.’s mentoring services are free

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Images were taken at various P.A.Y events and trips.

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