RICHMOND, Va. -- Financial woes from the pandemic, skyrocketing gas and grocery prices, inflation and rising college tuition prices have left many families in a tricky position.
Many students are left trying to navigate uncertain economic times while tending to their studies.
One woman who founded a mentoring program is doing her best to be part of the solution for her students who are excelling in the classroom but struggling to stay afloat.
"Because they're worried too. They're scared and stressed in these uneasy times," Patricia Burchett, the founder of JEWELS, said.
Burchett said she is often kept up late at night thinking of the problems facing young people these days.
"There's a lot of information I wish I knew in navigating my admissions process, so that's my why," Burchett said.
She mentors students from their junior year in high school through college and beyond and sees firsthand how these tumultuous economic times are hitting families and their college students hard.
Spelman College academic standout Falynn Jackson, a Bonner Scholar at the HBCU, now works at Emory University Hospital as she pursues a medical career.
She sees it quite often and says the economic load is a lot to bear for many students.
Mom TaTanisha Rodriguez whose three students are all mentees in JEWELS said the program has made a huge impact. Two of her children are now in college, giving back through community service and are also excelling academically.
"She made mentorship accessible, she made college accessible and she made the resources that the students needed accessible. I don't think I could have had two students go to college with all our family went through without JEWELS' help," Rodriguez said.
Burchett, who is now assisting a dozen students, said there are small ways to make a big difference. She hopes the community will consider lending a helping hand to students who are laser-focused on building a bright future.
"It could be a monetary donation. Could be a gift selected and purchased from their Amazon wish list," Burchett said. "Any kind of contribution would warm their hearts and let them know that somebody else out here is supporting me. When you put love and support behind a young person, magic happens."