KPIX 5 Jefferson AwardsBy Sharon Chin

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — An East Bay woman who reaped the benefits of having been mentored as a teen has now made it her mission to encourage and inspire girls through her own mentoring.

Since 2009, Amber Childress has been volunteering with Girls Inc. of Alameda County, a non-profit which empowers girls in their academic, career and leadership pursuits.

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For Childress, it is her way of giving back. The Oakland native and mother said she benefited from the Upward Bound college preparatory program and the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program.

Now Childress runs her own on-line marketing consulting business. But she is quick to point out that the seeds of her leadership skills were planted by her childhood mentors.

“They noticed that I loved to learn, I was a nerd, and that’s how I got involved in actually helping out and tutoring my peers,” said Childress.

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As an adult, Childress has become a priceless role model to the girls she has mentored.

Julayne Virgil, CEO of Girls Inc. of Alameda County, has worked with Childress for several years. “It really makes a difference for the girls to know that there’s someone who deeply understands what they’re going through currently, but also has a vision of what’s possible for them in the future,” said Virgil.

But Childress’ volunteer work doesn’t just stop with Girls, Inc. She also serves the East Bay community in other ways. She has given marketing advice and social media training to Overcomers with Hope TV studios, which teaches digital media to at-risk youth. And she is a trustee with the Alameda County Board of Education.

Childress juggles her jam packed schedule with a smile, powered by a deep desire to help others, motivated by young women like those she mentors at Girls, Inc.

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“It’s a great day to me if I’ve been able to help one person, explained Childress.