Mentors come in many forms.

For Sherre L. Delaney, who is now a young professional working at the nonprofit Colorado Black Health Collaborative, it was her grandmother who became a primary mentor.  Despite the generation gap, she and her grandmother formed a special bond helping each other live and work in service to the community. 

Sherre’s grandmother, Sherry K. Delaney, has had a long career in the nonprofit space and currently serves as the chaplain of the National Council of Negro Women Denver Section and the Rocky Mountain Regional Alliance. Years ago, during Sherry’s tenure as CEO of a women’s health organization, the younger Sherre began working with her as a volunteer. 

“I began at around 12 years old. We weren’t just granddaughter and grandma. It was mentor-mentee, and my grandmother showed me how to do business. Some mentors will be voices because some of us just don’t know how to operate or communicate in this world. Mentorship was vital because there were so many things that I didn’t understand, and she helped so much,” said Sherre.   

When she was a teen, Sherre recalls having difficulty at home and struggling at times in school. The bond she shared with her grandmother helped her through those difficult times.  

“She was the only person that understood and that I could talk to,” said Sherre.

It turns out, her grandmother knew how to step into a mentoring role because someone had done it for her when she was young. 

 “My mother passed away when I was 11, and I had a friend who lived around the corner, and it was getting dark. Her mother said, ‘You better get home for your mom. She’d be worried about you.’ I responded, “My mother’s dead.’ She asked, ‘Who’s at your house?’ I said, ‘An older sister.’ She asked me to get her and bring her back to her. This woman stepped in, and she took me under her wing and loved me. That was the important part. It was love and the relationship of a mentor,” said Sherry K. Delaney.

That mentor was the late Hazel Whitsett who was well known in the community for her charitable work and nonprofit efforts. Whitsett taught her the skills and life lessons that allowed her to grow, adapt and thrive today. 

“It was just wonderful. It was a relationship where it became natural to want to give back. It became part of me, and if that’s who you are in nature, it’s easy to nurture others,” said Sherry K. Delaney. 

Now she’s proud to have come full circle, helping her granddaughter in the same way — even in the same industry — as her mentor. 

Written in collaboration with the Colorado Black Health Collaborative. 

Learn more about the need for youth to have mentors in this article from Dr. Shakari Lee at the Colorado Black Health Collaborative.

Forward Together Team

The Forward Together team is composed of Coloradans like you. We're here to help you build and strengthen your relationships with the young people in your life through their growing and developing years.