“I plan to be there for her as long as she needs me.”

Anna Cuneo decided to become a mentor on JCCA’s Pleasantville Cottage Campus three years ago after being a Lunch Bunch volunteer. For the past year, she has been working with Keyanna, an intelligent, lively 13-year-old girl at Pleasantville Cottage School, JCCA’s residential program for emotionally troubled children.

Once a week, Anna and Keyanna spend a couple of hours together having lunch, going to yoga classes or just sitting around talking. “Keyanna has a great head on her shoulders. She’s smart, vocal and spunky and I love our time together.”

Keyanna, who feels a similar admiration for Anna, says, “Anna is nice and kind. When I’m upset, she helps to calm me down and she’s able to give me new ideas when dealing with things. She’s taught me that fighting is not the answer.”

Anna says, “As a mentor, I try to make Keyanna understand that relationships can be healthy and positive. I think that gives her hope. I care for her and try to build trust by letting her know that she can talk about anything with me. I try hard not to be judgmental, but guide her when she needs me. We work on solutions to problems together.”

She continues, “As a Lunch Bunch volunteer, I fell in love with the campus and the cottages. It amazes me what these kids have gone through. To see Keyanna live her life despite the cards she’s been dealt gives me such hope, as well as an amazing perspective and gratitude for what I have in my own life.”

Anna has personal experience with teenage girls. “I have a daughter of my own, so I know how tumultuous and difficult this age can be. On top of all the trauma Keyanna has experienced in her young life, I don’t mind if she’s moody sometimes—we always end up having a good time.”

Keyanna recalls, “My most memorable moment was when I went to the Beyonce concert with Anna and her daughter, who I really like. We were all singing together and knew the words to all the songs!”

Anna adds, “I think the fact that I show up every week is really important to Keyanna. And I plan to be there for her as long as she needs me.”