Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

Meet a Mentor: Pastor John Oliver III

Pastor John, a native of Seattle, has been a Seattle CARES mentor since the program was launched four years ago. A graduate of Garfield High School, he has a master’s degree in theology and is currently working on his PhD. He works as an intellectual property patent technical specialist for a law firm and is also pastor of the Gleanings Community Bible Church. A musician and songwriter, he enjoys singing and playing multiple instruments. As a mentor, he has worked with youth in The Rising program at Denny Middle School where he has seen incredible growth and development among the scholars participating in the program.

Recently, we asked Pastor John to tell us more about mentoring and what it means to him.

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

Growing up, I had both my parents and a host of relatives, yet it took an entire village to get me to where I am today. My hope is to continue employing the “village” approach in the upbringing of our children. It is of utmost importance for each of us to pour out the knowledge, wisdom and love we received.

What do you like about mentoring?

I absolutely love hearing what challenges the young scholars face, both at school and out of school. Hearing young Black scholars articulate how they feel about various current events and things happening in the world is a wonderful experience. Many times, our youth are misunderstood because we misinterpret what they are saying or doing. It’s nice to offer them a safe place where they can be themselves and learn alternative methods to express themselves.

What kind of growth have you seen with Rising scholars?

Throughout the pandemic, these young scholars overcame their own insecurities and continued to learn through a host of obstacles. Their strength and resilience were amazing.

What do you talk about with your mentees?

I believe it is important to get their thoughts on current events and how it reflects not only on their personal lives, but how the community, city, state, nation and world are impacted. We help these young Black scholars understand the value of articulating their emotions through speech, sports and the arts – not through guns or gangs.

In your view, what three words describe a mentor?

A mentor is supportive. A mentor is a vanquisher, someone who defeats the misconception that Black men are the enemy. And lastly, a mentor is harmonious. Mentors work together to empower youth to become the best version of themselves.

Learn more about mentoring.