Project Legacy's Approach
I was driving home after dropping Jaeden off at work at the RAC and I was thinking about how ___used to work there. I thought about the criticism I received from a volunteer who told me that she questioned my driving ___ to work at the RAC and also buying him a membership at the RAC. She thought he needed to be doing those things on his own - use the bus and pay for his own membership.
I thought about how ___ had been homeless when he came to us. Actually, I posted $100.00 bond and he moved from the jail into our home. He was unable to sleep through the night, he was so anxious and depressed. And yes, I did give him a ride to work. And I did buy him a membership at the RAC. And clothes. And a phone. And haircuts. And took him to the dentist. And bought a new mattress because of the arthritis in his spine from an old injury.
Imagine, moving to Rochester from Chicago to escape the violence as a 16 year old - Jaeden's age - only to become homeless and have to drop out of school in order to work to eat - and then begin to drink to deaden the pain.
So yes, I drove him to work. Just like I drove Jaeden and Kira and Kalia. And I bought him a membership at the RAC, and a phone and his clothes, and his shoes - just like Jaeden and Kira and Kalia.
Three months after he moved in with us, I drove him back to visit his mother in Chicago. It was the first time they had seen each other in three years.
And after that extravegant giving - treating him like our own child - in every way - now, 28 months later, he has been employed for the past 27 months. Completed treatment. Earned his GED. Enrolled in college. Earned his driving permit and then license. Bought a car.
And today, he drives himself to work and college - just like Kira. He pays for his own phone bill and auto and health insurance. Buys his own clothes. Picks up half and half when we are out so that I have it for my coffee in the morning.
On Thanksgiving his mother sent me a message -
"Hello Karen this ___ mother just want you to no I can't thank you for all that you do for my son God bless you and family" and she commented on a picture of him, "Love that picture of you. You look so very happy and that's what mama wants in life for you son you just don't no how happy I am for you mama love you sooo very much"
Our approach at Project Legacy is simple - so simple that it is too difficult for some to comprehend - we believe all children are our children. And we believe that they each are deserving of what our children receive - love, basic needs met, the same opportunities as our children - and most importantly, they are deserving of love and security. The “no-matter-whatness” of good parenting - "No matter what - we got you." "No matter what, we'll figure this out and it will be okay."
I'll take the criticism. I know that what we do isn't supported by all people who believe, deep down, that "you can't save them all" and who also believe, regardless of their self-professed liberal leanings, that there is a reason there is an achievement gap and it has something to do with children who don't work hard enough and parents of other races who don't love their children - rather than because of racism and inequities in every facet of American life - that can result in hopelessness and despair and depression.
And I'll keep driving kids to work, and making sure they have clothes and a bed to sleep in and a safe place to call home and an adult who loves them "no-matter-what" because I know that in the end - it's only through the power of love that anything will change for the kids who are all alone on the streets.
All of the individuals who donated gifts:
Tracy McCray for going above and beyond helping me with party-prep and "hostessing"
Natalie Victoria and Victoria's Italian for dinner
Terra Loco for shoes!
Pasquale Presa and Pasquale's Pizzaria
Heather Ritenour-Sampson and Yoga Tribe
Rachel Light-Diede for Kam's Santa suit
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
First Unitarian Universalist
Our guests from the PL board, the Rochester Public Schools Board, Operation Encourage sponsors, and RPS teachers and former students......thank you!
Thanks also to the many people who have donated financially this past month; your support allows us to do the work.