Massiah Holmes is pretty sure she would like to become a cosmetologist, and on Tuesday, a new friend talked with her about it.


Audrey Hollingsworth, a former teacher’s aide and substitute teacher, is serving as a mentor to Holmes, a Schofield Middle School sixth-grader. For about 30 minutes, Hollingsworth described the components of hair-dressing and how Holmes can reach that goal someday.


“She’s fun,” Holmes said. “She’s so respectful and patient with me.”


Hollingsworth is among nearly 30 area residents serving as mentors at Schofield. Each visits the school once a week to spend time with a student who can benefit from academic assistance and the opportunity to chat.


The mentoring program, which completed a pilot effort last year, is a collaboration between the school, Friendship Baptist Church and South Aiken Presbyterian Church, said guidance counselor Cindy Keating.


The project is called ACORNS – Area Churches Organized to Reach and Nurture Students. Participation is not limited to parishioners of the two churches.


“This is a program that will grow each year,” Keating said. “More people will get involved as they get more comfortable with what they’re doing.”


Kevin Pethick, a South Aiken Presbyterian Church member, is delighted that his father, Dave Pethick, met for the first time with a student Tuesday. The younger man served on a committee with Friendship representatives to discuss the initiative.


Their joint mission, Kevin said, was to find a ministry where they could help children at risk. The opportunity emerged to mentor Schofield students.


“Last year, it was probably more of an academic focus,” Pethick said. “This year, some students may have emotional needs, too. This has expanded with the volunteer sign-up, giving people the ability to be where more comfort is needed.”


Two of Tricksome Stevens’ kids attend Schofield, and she decided to go beyond her service as a parent-volunteer. A former mental health staffer, she is working with a student even at a time when she is undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s disease.


“My student likes to play on a computer in the math lab,” Stevens said. “In between, we’ll just talk, and he’ll talk about family and what else is going on. I hope I’m helping him.”


For more information, interested persons may call Keating or career specialist Wendy Bailey at (803) 641-2770 or email ckeating@aiken.k12.sc.us.