Lifting up needy families at holiday time to make someone’s day
Making someone’s day can and should be an everyday occurrence. But during the holidays especially, many beautiful stories come to light. I’ll share several of them this week between Christmas/Channukah and New Years to light you up from the inside to go with the joy that we see outside from so many beautiful lights. Thanks to the Chicago Tribune and Darcel Rockett for bringing this to my attention.
Let me take you back to December 17 (this year) as youth on the south and west side of Chicago, some challenging areas, showed how they could rise above it all and provide for families in need through the Alternative School Network (ASN). Youth ages 16-24 can join a volunteer ambassadorship, a one year leadership program designed by ASN. Each ambassador helps up to 6 families in hard hit communities. Each youth ambassador checks in with their families on at least a weekly basis to make sure their food and shelter needs are met by offering rent support assistance, groceries on a biweekly basis and health care services. Ambassadors spend 40 hours a month helping and are compensated by the youth service corps. Terrific right?
But the the ambassadors themselves created a yearly holiday giveaway with clothes, toys, gift cards and resources for their families. One ambassador is 21 year old Laquaja Lafayette. After losing her mother to breast cancer in 2018, she spent her later teens sleeping in cars and on couches. She graduated in 2020 and has been an ambassador since the beginning of the program. “I know what it feels like to go days without eating, being homeless and sleeping from house to house. Having been through that, I feel like they can connect to me better.” Lafayette is interested in a career as a social worker. Thank goodness for people like Laquaja, who want nothing more than to make someone’s day.