Lexie Beard Interviews Rachel Estes

Lexie Beard Interviews Rachel Estes

Rachel Estes on Mentorship, Missions, and Making a Difference

By Lexie Beard

No matter what Rachel Estes is doing, she’s looking for a way to help her community. The Birmingham, Alabama resident supports the local Girl Scouts. She mentors high school students. She started a social justice book club for Birmingham-area youth. And she currently serves as Director of Outreach and Missions for Canterbury Methodist Church.

Every day, Rachel is doing something to help improve the lives of others in Birmingham and beyond.

Musings on Mentorship

When I talked to Rachel, I realized that a mentor isn’t just someone that you look up to. A mentor is someone that will provide the tools for you to succeed. A mentor is also someone who really sees you.

When Rachel was growing up in her church, she wasn’t known as her parents’ kid, she told me. She was seen as “Rachel.” The adults that she was around would give her resources and articles about the topics she was passionate about. These mentors weren’t just someone to look up to but they wanted to help her become her best self. Later on in life, this made her want to be someone who would help and inspire young women to better themselves and support them in achieving their goals.

But Rachel states that at first, she didn’t set out to be someone’s mentor. She just had the idea to gather a group of girls to help them succeed in life. She saw that these girls had many adults in their lives but few that took the responsibility to be a positive influence.

“It shifted my mind [on] how important it is to be a good mentor,” Rachel stated.

She wanted to create a space for these girls to become successful. She saw it as an opportunity to really pour into the girls, to be accessible, and to surround them with the tools they needed to accomplish their goals.

Words of Wisdom

It was 1980 and Rachel was about 10 years old. Her church got a call about a refugee family called from Guatemala in need of help and shelter. The church she grew up in helped relocate families and provide support for them. She happened to be the one to answer the phone that day and it changed her perspective on what was going on in the world.

In 1983, when Rachel was 13 years old, she and her parents joined many others for a bus trip to Washington D.C., to march for jobs, peace, and freedom, and to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday. She remembers the energy and the people’s passion like it was yesterday.

These experiences inspired her to be an activist in her own right. She saw how much her voice could be heard and learned that it was valuable. She told me that she never wanted to be in a position where she would regret not speaking up.

The popular quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” are words that Rachel lives by. Life has taught her that people who seem to have it all together, don’t always have it together. She has been with people who were at the top of their game to people who are wondering where they are getting their next meal. The lesson from her line of work was to never judge people because you never know where they are coming from.

Rachel is the type of person to agree to any challenge that comes her way. For young girls looking into activism, she tells them to engage in any activity or program that comes their way. She says that getting involved in these extracurricular activities, doing community service, and becoming educated on something new can really help you.

If there’s a program you’re interested in but think you won’t get accepted for, apply for it anyway, she said. These programs snowball ideas and passions for other internships and show you different routes you can take in your career, she added

Rachel believes in a simple but powerful motto, “Anything can happen!”