MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes each person is rare.

Exquisite Pearls of Excellence is a non-profit organization that empowers high school girls through mentoring, leadership, academics and service.

Jamila Griffin, a mentee, is grateful for the establishment. “It really helped me embrace being myself. Instead of trying to be like other people.”

Renee Meeks, founder and executive director, tells the young ladies that just like pearls, they’re rare. “You’re one of a kind. It’s easy to be a copy. It’s better to be an original.”

Empowering girls through mentorship is a big piece of their organization. “Not being a judge, but being somebody these young ladies can call and text at any hour. Provide resources for, because life can be hard,” said Meeks.

For these girls, having someone to turn to that’s not their parents or guardian during high school is very important. “My wonderful mentor is always there for me if I need her, and she makes me feel safe,” said Jamila.

Tarique Martin is Jamila’s mentor. Even though Tarique is a mother of three, she carves out time to mentor because she knows how important it is.

“Many of our kids are dealing with a lot of things– they mask it very well, and being able to have someone to be that listening ear is key,” Tarique said.

Service is a big component of their organization as well. All the mentors and mentees take part.

“When you give back, you also receive. You also get to see different parts of the world, the different parts of your community where there is a need. Sometimes we have our own needs and sometimes we don’t realize there may be someone who has a greater struggle,” said Meeks.

That is why Brown Missionary Baptist Church wanted to give Exquisite Pearls of Excellence $1,000 because high school and beyond are hard. Having someone to help guide you along the way makes it a little easier.

A true community changer.

For more information about Exquisite Pearls of Excellence, click here.