Helping Hands: People Serving People

By  Suzanne LeRoy, JLM Member

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I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer on Sunday, 11/25/2012, at People Serving People. Annalee Habstritt’s transformative project for homeless children and adolescents involved the creation of a vision board with ages 5-10 in one group and age 11 and above in another. I had the privilege of working with fellow Junior League volunteers and the younger age group, eleven children bursting with energy, ideas and creativity. Even the youngest were able to complete a simple one page form with help and write their name and age, describe their favorite colors, TV shows, songs (artists Justin Bieber and Selena were a hit), and hobbies (basketball, cars, football, dancing, and playing house).

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What was most inspiring were the goals each child hoped to realize (i.e. to be safe, to be kind, to be helpful; be a better reader; do better in math; go to school; become a firefighter and save lives; become a dancer, a ballerina, a basketball superstar, play soccer, be on TV, go to the circus, go to Mall of America, take long trips). Things children stated they were most proud of (answers referred to others i.e. my mom, my baby brother; or to themselves i.e. I am smart, I am kind, I have a normal life).

The children glued the completed form to their vision board and quickly surrounded it with cut out pictures from age-appropriate magazines, plastic buttons and stars, sequins, drawings made with colored markers, and a small polaroid picture that was taken of each child. Each board was then covered with decoupage for safekeeping.

While the craft project dried, the children released boundless energy in the second floor recreation room or they played games with the Junior League Volunteers. Most of the parents met their children at the end of the session and many expressed appreciation and support of their children’s efforts. Every effort was made by the Junior League Volunteers to have each child leave hearing positive words and encouragement.

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Children, in even the most dire circumstances, are capable of understanding hope, optimism, and the power of possibility. Building children’s self-esteem through the magic of art, crafts and caring adults made it an inspirational and life-changing day for me. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have as a member of the Junior League.

 

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Generation Next: research-based strategies to close racial and economic achievement gaps

Did you know: In the Twin Cities, just 52% of students of color graduate from high school on time. (Minnesota Compass, 2010 data)

logo1A new partnership has formed in the Twin Cities dedicated to narrow the educational achievement gap. Generation Next takes a cohesive, all-in approach to address our educational and community crisis. The partnership brings education, community, government and business leaders together to identify and adopt successful programs that are proven to work.

Together, Generation Next leaders will use a cradle-to-career framework to help students achieve five key goals, or success benchmarks. These goals are research-based competencies and key transition points that are necessary for students’ developmental progress. To ensure effective programs and consistent measures of achievement, networks of providers will focus on specific topics within the five key goals. Using data-based decision-making, we will identify a clear way forward, finding and implementing the most effective educational solutions and programs.

Take a look at the Star Tribune article about partnership.