Mentors benefit local youth

Grace Parreira, co-owner of the Blue Door Massage & Spa in Lemoore, was one of three business mentors for the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy last year. 

LEMOORE — A Lemoore program has community members mentoring teens to be successful in business.

Young Entrepreneur Academy Program Manager Brittany Reece recruits business mentors to help students in the program succeed with starting their own business.

“I don’t think there’s any other investment greater than spending time with youth making sure they see the value of themselves,” she said.

The Young Entrepreneur Academy is an after-school program where students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research and pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds to launch and run their own companies. Students also listen to guest speakers, learn from mentors and go on field trips to enhance their learning.

Since 2004, the program has been serving students nationwide and was started by the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce in 2015. The program is for middle and high school students with classes starting in October and ending in May.

Reece said students from last year’s program enjoyed working with their mentors and learned about business from different points of view.

Reece said the mentors, who have a business background, come to about six classes during the spring semester and take a few students under their wing.

“Mentors take these students and they give them a little more one-on-one direction on how to write their business plan and makes sure their business plan flows,” Reece said.

Grace Parreira, co-owner of Blue Door Massage & Spa in Lemoore, said she mentored two students who were in the program last year.

“It was really amazing for me to be a mentor just to see how bright these kids are,” she said. “It gives you a little bit of hope for our future in a way because they have so much success ahead of them.”

Parreira said she wanted to become a mentor after hearing positive things about the program.

“It was something to do that I thought would be beneficial to the community, and I didn’t realize how much I would actually enjoy it,” she said.

Parreira said she taught her students some of the things she learned as a businesswoman like how to start a business with somebody else, how to stick to a budget and overhead expenses, city permits and more.

Parreira said the biggest challenge was trying to help the students realize that starting a business is definitely something that they can achieve.

“It’s not just pretend,” she said. “This is a business they can actually create, actually run and they can actually profit from it.”

Parreira said students who go into business can help the local community.

“These kids grow up here, they go to school here, yes they might go off to college but if we can invest the business mindset into these kids, we might see shops start filling up downtown,” she said. “We might see more mom-and-pop businesses coming back into our area and less chains.”

She also stressed the importance of community support. 

“It’s important to invest, she said. “If you spend time doing things that will enrich your community, it’s going to come back to you tenfold because it’s going to create a better place to do business yourself.”

This reporter can be reached at csandoval@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2422. 

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