Program Highlights

Building the Path over Spring Break

The last week of March brought the start of our Harambee CItybuilders semester during Chicago Public School's spring break. We had two crews hard at work- one on our tuckpointing site, and one continuing our partnership with Neighborspace and completing another phase of the renovation of Children's Garden of Hope. We lucked out with some manageble weather- and were so excted to get back to work. 

Our Harambee Citybuilders had several new apprentices to train and all of our youth got back into the groove of setting scaffolding, grinding out old mortar, and tuckpointing for a homeowner on the 1000 block of Drake Avenue. We were delighted to have three long-time Harambee apprentices return to us: James, Mariah and Josiah all who are now available for after school programming. It was an incredible blessing to have their experience as we added several new apprentices for this spring semester. 

Our garden crew did a great job with some minor demolition, spreading mulch, building raised beds, and then filling them with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soil. We enjoyed special guest helpers from the neighborhood from time to time, and also had the privileged of having InterVarsity students from UCLA join us on Tuesday afternoon. 

Being Holy Week, Anthony led us in devotions considering Jesus as the curse breaker. Our youth can give ample evidence of the presence of the curse of sickness, death and toil- as simple as the difficulty in our daily work to the tragedy and trauma they have known. Easter was exactly the reminder we all needed- that our work to restore houses, or gardens, our neighborhoods or our relationships is not in vain as Jesus brings restoration into all those places that will have eternal impact. Continue to pray for our apprentices as they work hard and learn to hope for lasting restoration. 

Famous Stars Build the Path

During January and February a special group of our middle school Peacebuilders with the help of a dedicated volunteer named Debbie, committed themselves to a special project of creating products and showing their teachers at Cameron Elementary some much needed pampering. 

Debbie mentored these four girls through the process of branding and brainstorming products they could create that would be appreciated by their hard working teachers. They named themselves the "Famous Stars" and printed their logo on matching sweatshirts they wore when they presented teachers with their gifts: face scrub, homemade lotion and brownie mix in a jar.

For 6 weeks, they found so much excitement in being able to create something that would express their gratitude to their teachers, and their excitement has spilled over causing them to dream even bigger. While our mentor Debbie's time with them was limited because she has left Chicago for a bit, our youth are looking forward hoping to continue what they see they have just started and use all they have learned. 

They have had great conversations on what it looks like to welcome new girls into their special group and how they can possible earn money from creating high quality products. They are envisioning ways to show gratitude to neighborhood moms this Mother's Day and our staff is jumping right in to respond to their excitement and praying for a special female volunteer who would like to work with these young ladies in the next phase. We are so excited they have been exposed to the early work involved in entrepreneurship and are developing a dream that is drawing out their passion- and even modeling for the little ones in their schools the importance of gratitude for all those who help you walk along the path from cradle to career and along with these Famous Stars, I'm excited for what's to come. 

Michelle Johnson, 
Director of Apprenticeships and Communication