Local girls gather to honor beloved mentor

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Throughout her lifetime, Joan Karff has touched the lives of so many, but one group in particular is undeniable proof of her compassion.

Over the past 15 years, Karff has mentored a hand-picked group of 150 low-income girls at Lamar High School.

"I never thought I could pursue a passion. Most people say that's not practical, but thanks to the lovely Mrs. Karff, she looked at all of us and said, 'You're an amazing individual and you can do anything,'" recalled 2011 graduate Thu-Mai Nguyen.

Even now, Karff remembers each and every girl by name and interest.

"When I first met her, I told her I wrote poetry, so whenever she saw me, she gave me books of poetry. And she wanted to read my writing. She was just so encouraging," said Eboni Graham, who graduated in 2002 and is now working as a journalist.

Graham, Nguyen and 30 other mentees returned to Houston this weekend to thank Karff for her work and celebrate her legacy.

During the gathering, Karff announced that this year's class of mentees would be her last, citing the need to focus on her battle with cancer.

"Hopefully, they will pass some of those values on to their children. I'm certainly proud and happy I was able to do this," she told abc13's Melanie Lawson.
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