Going Back to Her Roots
BEAUFORT, SC-April 22, 2010
If you approached her from behind you might mistake her for a teenager. At closer inspection however you can distinctly see a girl who is in her late 20’s, and happens to be a little over four months pregnant. She moves around with the kids at the youth center, playing and running with as much energy and enthusiasm as they have. They call her “Ms. Mani” her name is Imani Grahm.
Grahm graduated from high school a year early and graduated at the head of her class at Tuskegee Ala. four years later. A self defined “grandma’s girl” she decided to move back to South Carolina and work at the same youth center she attended as a child.
You went to school for accounting, what made you decide to work with children?
I wanted to work somewhere I could be close to my grandmother. I also had a hard time finding a job in accounting when I first graduated, and when the opportunity to work at the youth center came around I decided to take it. I really do enjoy working with kids and helping them learn. I may not be working in the field I studied, but I’m content and I feel like I am making a difference.
When you were younger did you attend any youth programs like the ones at the youth center?
Yes, I actually went to the youth center for summer camps. We would go on trips to the beach and the zoo. It was so much more fun than just being at home all day. I lived with my grandma and she worked most of the time so it was good to have something to do when she was gone, and to interact with children that were my age.
So you were raised in Beaufort South Carolina?
Yeah. I was born in Maryland but my mom was having a hard time raising me as a single parent so I moved here when I was 6 to live with my grandmother and grandfather. They were like my parents, they made sure I had everything I needed and I feel really lucky and blessed to have had them.
Is there anything that you have learned from working at the youth center that you think will help you with your child?
I’ve learned a lot. I see how much time and attention children need. I also realize that they like for you to really get involved and play with them not just watch them play. I also know that they can be a handful at times but dealing with ten kids at once at the youth center will hopefully prepare me to deal with just one.
What do you think the most rewarding thing about working at the Laurel Bay Youth Center is?
It has to be when one of the children come back and tell you that they made an A on a paper you helped them with, or that you helped them to get a good grade on a test. They have fun here but the most important thing is that they are still learning. That has to be the most rewarding part, knowing that something you did made a difference in their life.
Grahm has expressed interest in taking classes in early childhood development so that she may better help the children she works with. Her ultimate goal is to one day be director of a program like the one the Laurel Bay Youth Center offers; with her passion for children and readiness to learn it seems she is already on the right path to reaching that goal.
“MCCS SC Youth Program mission is to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring individuals.” -MCCS.com
“Youth Centers provide a safe haven for school age children offering recreation activities and before and after school programs. The facility boasts a full sized gymnasium, playground, arts and craft room, game room and teen center.” – marinecorpsusa.org
About MCCS Laurel Bay Youth Center
MCCS Laurel Bay Youth Center is a Beaufort, SC based organization that provides support to Marines and their family members, making resources available as well as methods for meeting the challenges of the military lifestyle. Affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club of America. For more information on MCCS Laurel Bay Youth Center, please call 843.228.7640 or visit us http://www.mccs-sc.com.
Laurel Bay Youth Center
Contact information and locations of after school and summer programs
Lifestyle skill development for military families
Boys & Girls Club America
Official site of Boys and Girls club of America