At our first Annual Gathering with Volunteers and Donors in 2016, Anthony Jermaine Ross, one of our Board of Directors, shared a story where he witnessed the meaning of connection in a healthy community in order to have chance to succeed in life. He mentioned that a teenager shared a dream to work in some technology field in the Arctics and a dought crossed in his mind about the viability. Promptly an adult present at the group said that he knew someone doing exactly the same job and promised to introduce the person to the teen. Jermaine started dreaming to bring this type of connection to the youth of color who don't have chance to dream big like that teen
At our second Annual Gathering with Volunteers and Donors in 2017, we were able to proudly share a story where one of our youth had a dream to be an astronaut but was totally discouraged and gave up going to college. Suddenly Dalton, one of our volunteers, said “I know three people at Iowa State University who is studying to be astronauts and I can help you with all the information needed for you to go to college to pursue your dream.” A new world of possibilities was opening to the excited teen who had his dream validated with practical guidance. A fun connecting time followed with the them challenging Dalton for push ups.
Culinary art therapy
We start our meetings checking out each other sharing high/down, mentioning something nice and something upsetting that happened.
Some of them have hard time to find anything good to mention, others share heartbreaking stories. “My brother went to jail yesterday” phrase from a youth opened opportunity for others to mention family members in and out of jail too. We decided to do an activity where they can have an opportunity to express creatively doing something for their families, and came up with cake decorating idea. Two of our volunteers spent an evening baking small cakes and taught them how to decorate a gift for their families. The kids were so excited to be able to do something for their loved ones that none of them ate the cupcake we provided for them to eat in class, taking home a cake plus a cupcake. The altruism and sacrifice saving the cupcake was really touching.