5 Years In: On Summer and Relationships
Things are picking up for the season here at CAT! We have 5 new summer interns, we have a Clinical Frame published to our website, we gave away 5 sliced watermelons at the Ravenswood Run on April 29, we’ve worked with 121 young people in April and May (that’s almost twice as many young people as we worked with in all of 2009!), we have more volunteer training planned than we’ve ever had before… The list goes on and on. For details, check out our Facebook page.
What I’m struck by is the power of ongoing relationships. I’ll give you a few examples of what I mean.
- We met “Bob” in the summer of 2007, during a pilot program that, at the time, I thought was a total bust. We ran into him again in June of 2010 when we started programming with The Night Ministry. He was on the Youth Parliament with The Night Minsitry, and his area of responsibility was with Adventure Club. We got to watch his leadership grow for two years. Now he’s in his mid-20’s, working and going to school. He’s also in our Leadership Program this year. It’s really great for us to get to watch his life change, and watch the success he’s wrung from difficult circumstances.
We met “Humberto” in late summer of 2010. Some of you know who he is – he’s the reason we gave out watermelon a few weeks ago. That was the first year the Chicago Adventure Therapy was a Contributing Charity with the Chicago Marathon. When we found out “Humberto” was running the Marathon, we offered him the same thing we offered our Charity runners – we asked what he’d like for us to have waiting for him at our cheering station at Mile 14. He hesitated a minute, and then said quietly, “Well – I like watermelon.” So began our 2 and half year tradition of handing out watermelon at road races. In 2011 “Humberto” showed up to a program with bruises on his face. He’d made the decision to leave the gang he’d been involved with for many years and had been “beat out” by his peers and friends. In his own words, “Humberto” “messed up” his Freshmen year; since then he’s gone to Saturday School
and evening classes, and is on track to graduate from High School on time in just a few weeks. He’s looking for a summer job in order to save for college. And he’s participating in our Leadership program along with “Bob.”
- The leadership program that “Bob” and “Humberto” are both a part of has been planned by Stephanie Miller, our Program Coordinator who started with CAT in 2010 as a summer intern from Loyola’s School of Social Work. We’ve been lucky to have interns from Loyola since 2009; we couldn’t do the programming we do without the amazing students who come to us from Loyola. We’ve had young people racing in the Chicago Shoreline Marathon since summer 2010, and wouldn’t be able to do it without logistical help from The Northwest Passage. And the volunteers I told you about earlier? — we wouldn’t be able to have our young people racing the 8-mile course of the Shoreline instead of the relay course, that stays right on the same beach, if it weren’t for a corps of dedicated volunteers willing to train with our youth on a weekly basis, so that our young people and our volunteers can complete this course safely.
It’s been 5 years since we met “Bob” and started developing the relationships that have allowed for some amazing opportunities for our young people. Heading into 2012, we can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring. We hope you’ll be part of them with us! If you want to join us, give us a shout email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’re a runner and “Humberto’s” watermelon sounds good, email us at email@example.com to learn how you can race with us, raise funds to help us change lives for more Chicago youth, and get some watermelon while you’re at it.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
–Andrea and the CAT team.