Isabel is a 3rd grader who joined our program midway through the year. She is an extremely imaginative kid with a lot of energy, and she was always volunteering to help out whenever she could. Unfortunately, she also had a lot of trouble fitting in with the other kids in the program. It was a constant struggle to make sure that the others would include her in activities.
Emotional outbursts became more and more frequent with Isabel. In March, we found out that her mother had recently been deported, leaving Isabel with just her father and 4 year old sister. This would obviously cause a lot of distress any child’s life.
Throughout the year we have what we call Family Fun Nights, where we invite friends and family of the children to join us at the church for a night filled with food, interactive activities like games and crafts, and performances of songs and short plays from the children. On the day of the event, we were working hard on practicing play called “¿Que voy a ser?” with the children. Isabel was bursting into tears at anything that didn’t go right that day. It turns out that her dad was not going to be able to make it to Family Fun Night, as he had to work the local elotes stand that he owns. Isabel thought that she wouldn’t be able to stay for Family Fun Night because her family couldn’t be there. Making sure she had a fun night became our top priority. Our night opened with Isabel capitvating the audience with an inspired narration of the Shel Silverstein classic “The Giving Tree.” Then it was dinner time. Everyone was eating with their family except Isabel, because Isabel had the special privilege of sitting at a table full of Project Transformation Interns (which is obviously the coolest table to sit at). When her dad picked her up at the end of the night, she left with a beautiful globe of the earth painted by her own two hands and a smile on her face.
Over the course of year the children became more accepting of Isabel, and she became more comfortable in the program, ending the year with a nice circle of friends. Her dad noticed her becoming more social in other aspects of her life too, along with making good progress in her studies. During the last week of the After-School Program, Isabel made two gold paper plate medallions as to gift to me reading “Josh, you are my hero.” She reminded me of the type of impact you can have in a child’s life when you show them that you care for them.
Casa Linda United Methodist Church