Happiness Along the Path

At the end of any summer working with Harambee, I'm often asked how the summer went by friends, families and supporters of our work. I usually try to share one of my favorite stories. This summer there's no contest as to my favorite story.

This summer our Harambee teens ate lunch everyday next door to a Walgreens. On occasion a staff member would accompany a few youth to purchase a bag of chips or a gatorade to supplement the free lunch program's meal. One day as I was in line with two of young men, both 17 years old in our Harambee Citybuilders safety vests. The cashier asks me, "What do these kids do all day? I see your kids in and out of here all summer and they are just SO HAPPY!" Surprised, I gladly shared they they spent their days doing heavy construction work in the heat, dirt and sweat.

I love working with my hands, but I'm usually filled with a feeling closer to "satisfaction" as I work, rather than "happiness." This summer I saw smiling, happy teenagers at work. Of course different teens had their moments of unhappiness- but as I shared in our July snapshot there was a surprising spirit of JOY among our youth. I know it wasn't the dirt, sweat or heat that caused their smiles, but meaningful work done together with safe adults who delight in them and a team who they grew to love. Teens get a bad rap for moodiness and attitude, but in my opinion there is nothing more life giving than being around happy, exuberant teenagers.

We're so thankful for ways God developed a sense of team and family, and of laughter this summer among the youth in all our programs, and we're so thankful for how you prayed for and supported this work this summer. In this snapshot- find out ways you can support us as we start our fall season. 

Delighting in God's goodness, 
Michelle Johnson 
Director of Apprenticeships and Communication

Orginally posted in our 2018 September Email Snapshot

Work and Play Builds the Path

Anyone with kids knows the difficulty of filling those out-of-school summer months with positive activity. Finding the right balance between activities that are "good for" our kids and things that they think are the most fun can be tricky. This summer the programs of R CITY run the length of the continuum between work and play. 

Our youngest friends are kept busy at Dreambuilders: active play, creative work, time reading, playing outside, nurturing character traits of kindness and respect. When you enter our space the energy of JOY surrounds you- dancing, singing, laughing, and reciting our summer catchphrase: "I have a HOPE! I have a FUTURE!" (From Jeremiah 29). The prayer of our children's staff has been that God would bring us the neighborhood children who would otherwise have nothing else positive to do- children that for whatever reason might be spending their summer days inside without much enrichment. God has definitely answered that prayer bringing many new children into our program.

Our teen apprentices are mostly on the other end of the spectrum from work to play. Our oldest teens (Age 16-18) are busy Monday-Friday in the heat, dirt and sweat as they tuckpoint and repair buildings. It's so great that even in the midst of the hardest work, they find ways to make their work fun. They sing, they laugh, they tell stories and cheer each other on. At the end of the day when you would imagine them at their most tired, they are all noise- laughter, singing, funny stories and JOY! Nothing fills my heart more than when teenagers love their work and love their teammates. 

As we pass the halfway mark of the summer and the days start cruising by with all the activity, we are so thankful to all of you who have made this work possible. When I started preparing this e-mail, we were still in need of $30,000 to complete our summer work, and it's great news to announce that we're now only in need of $20,000. If you are still considering a summer gift, I can't think of a better way to spend our resources- producing JOY in the children and teens of Humboldt Park! 
 

Michelle Johnson 
Director of Apprenticeships and Communication

Originally posted in our July 2018 Email Snapshot