When Amy Morris began her college career at Rockford University in 1990, she felt a little lost.

“I was the first in my family to go to college. I had no guidelines. I just jumped in feet first,” Morris said. “The advisor they assigned me was a French teacher and I was taking Spanish. My Spanish teacher told me just to switch to her.

“She helped me pick classes that would keep me on track,” Morris said. “She knew that the finances were tough on my family, and she helped me become a student worker to help me out financially.”

Morris graduated in 1995 with a degree in child development. Since December of 2014, she’s been an early Head Start home visitor teacher for the City of Rockford.

“I work with pregnant moms or moms with children up to age 3 who need guidance on how to best to raise children,” Morris said. “Our clientele has a lot of needs. We help with food resources, utilities, connections to get furniture and clothing.”

Each Head Start home visitor teacher has a maximum of 12 families they can help and Morris is at her maximum because, like many organizations, the City of Rockford is struggling to find people to take the job. Still, Morris has found enough time to volunteer with the Rockford Police Department to do car seat safety checks and, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, be a mentor for Rockford Promise as well.

“I was approached by Emily Hartzog (who works for Chartwell Agency and is on the Rockford Promise Board of Directors),” Morris remembered. “I was her son’s infant room teacher when I worked at the Ryan Jury Child Development Center and she thought I’d be really good at this.

“I remembered how much my Spanish professor helped me, and I wanted to be that for someone else,” Morris said.

Morris is now mentoring her third Rock Valley College student. The first graduated from RVC and transferred to Rockford University. Although she’s no longer “officially” that student’s mentor, they talk often.

The second will graduate in May from RVC and her third started at RVC in the fall.

“All three of my young ladies have been pretty open with me about school and what they are having difficulties,” Morris said. “Oneof my girls really had some tough stuff going on in her family and it was during the pandemic and she was basically isolated in her room all day.

“We made it a point to go out as soon as we could,” Morris said. ” ….. “We went to some racism programming at the Nordloff Theater. We went to a fundraiser. I just tried to get her outside whenever I could.

“She’s doing well now. I love this program.”

April is National Volunteer Month and Rockford Promise to have a large number of volunteers serving as mentors to its rapidly growing roster of Scholars.

Amy Morris has been a Rockford Promise Mentor since the fall of 2019.