‘All of our children deserve hope’ — And it starts with you

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This past week I saw a heartbreaking post on Facebook written by a young man who is now 25 years old. I haven’t seen him in many years, but sent him a message to which he immediately replied with his phone number. We talked and I convinced him to come to my home to talk with my husband, John, and myself.

He replied that he wanted to wait and “get myself together.” He didn’t want us to be disappointed in him. I assured him we could never be disappointed in him.

A first generation American, he never knew his father. He’s lived in the same Section 8 home all of his life. His mother, a refugee from the Vietnam War, is now incapacitated after having numerous strokes. She’s losing her eyesight and hasn’t been able to work at her low-paying job for many years.

My young, struggling, 25-year-old friend is both a full-time caregiver and is working full-time at a nursing home to support himself and his mother.

He is one of our own, Rochester. He is an American citizen. He was a little boy with dreams and sparkling brown eyes who loved to play with blocks and read books and watch caterpillars in the summertime.

He never played sports. His mother couldn’t speak English. He had no father to guide him, and no teacher tagged him as gifted or most likely to succeed. Post-secondary options were never a part of any plan.  Over time, his hopes faded and his dreams seemed to die.

Unfortunately, the challenges my young friend is facing are all too common among the young people I work with every day at Project Legacy. They, like all young people, are deserving of opportunity — not just the star athletes, the academically gifted or the children born into wealth and security.

All of our children deserve hope.

Project Legacy was created for those young people who are invisible to too many people — the youth who have lost hope and have no resources to do anything other than continue in cycles of poverty and hopelessness.

As we continue our work with young adults aged 17-26, we have begun to intensify our work with teenagers and middle schoolers. We are moving from tutoring one time per week to four times a week. We are making drug testing and access to addiction treatment part of our middle school and high school programs. We are going to tighten up our expectations and requirements while enhancing the resources and opportunities available to our students.

All of our children deserve hope.

Like we have from the beginning, we are starting small, with 12 boys and 12 girls this school year. The academic work, volunteer opportunities, peer mentoring, and mental health resources to address trauma will all be components of our work. Our data-driven program will be closely monitored and revised as we see what’s working and what isn’t. And at the end of the school year, we hope to be able to show the positive results of our work and continue to expand and reach more students.

No one in our community should feel hopeless. No one should be entrapped in the cycle of poverty that too many experience. The work of Project Legacy is vital to breaking cycles of poverty and hopelessness that too many of our children experience.

All of our children deserve hope.

And this is where you come in: Teachers, if you have time and energy, we need you. Therapists and mental health practitioners, we need your guidance and expertise. Friends and associates and business people, we need your financial support. We rely on you to be able to do this work.

All of our children deserve hope — but we need you.

To continue supporting our work, please consider applying to become a volunteer or make a monthly financial contribution to Project Legacy.

Because all of our children deserve hope, and it starts with you.

Donate today to join our Legacy Partners Program, our monthly giving initiative that provides a sustainable foundation for Project Legacy youth.

Karen Edmonds