Program Update

Photo by Polly Cannella

Photo by Polly Cannella

Hello my friends,

It’s great to be writing to you as usual, I often look forward to this opportunity to share with you what is happening in our world.  The season is officially off to a roaring start, and the kids and coaches are off and running!!  The Lady Bolts have a good jump with two victories over the Hammond (Indiana) Hermits and one loss to the Evergreen Park Blue Devils on Mother’s Day.  The Lady Thunder are having a rocky start with two straight huge losses to Whiting 14U (Indiana), but we are seeing some progress from the first game to the second.  The Patriots start their season this evening at 7:45pm vs. the Sheridan Park A’s, and the Royals, Reds, and White Sox all get going next week.  Thanks to After School Matters and Jarred Jernigan (our Program Specialist) we will be launching our first sports podcast this summer to update you weekly about our teams and other youth sports around the city.

Most of the kids are doing well academically, thanks to your continuous support which allowed us to hire our first tutor Mr. Lenn Reid graduate of Chicago State University.  In addition, we brought on a wonderful volunteer tutor named Sam Shipko from DePaul University; Sam is an amazing young man that inspires me to do better everyday, remember that name because Sam will be on the market for hire in a year or two with a business degree.  Lastly, University of Chicago has been a wonderful partner in helping us launch our virtual tutoring component over the WizIQ software platform; Brandi Sndograss (Neighborhood Schools Program) and Chaz Rasul (Civic Engagement) were instrumental in making this happen by providing student tutors from the U of C, so our kids have some of the brightest minds in America helping them.  There is always room for improvement, so we are pursuing additional funding that will allow us to hire more tutors to increase our effectiveness.

Photo by Polly Cannella

Photo by Polly Cannella

In terms of Civic engagement, our children learned a lot about political structures, voting privileges and duties, and the democratic process thanks to our friends at Public Allies.  Ona, Marcel, Kate, Ray, Terrell and the rest of the Allies were awesome with the kids and we appreciated everything they did for us, most of our kids now look forward to voting and being a part of the process when they reach 18.  Culturally, we had an amazing visit this month to the Jewish Community Center in Hyde Park, thanks to committee members Larry and Lynda Stein (I love you guys!).  It was so awesome!!!!!!! The kids learned about Shabbat, Hebrew songs, discussed the Exodus from Egypt, made Challah bread, candles, and played a little soccer.  Our host were so amazing, patient, and kind. Big thanks to JCC staff and volunteers, Nicole, Josh, Wendy, Cantor Rachel, Ms. Dionne, Coach Durham and the rest.

The growth in participation has been tremendous. With the growth in our grant funding and individually giving, it as made the financial part less stressful. Our volunteers are always working diligently to find new donors, making sure we find new grants and are reporting back on the grants we have received.  While the world load is hard, we are blessed to do it. Right now my biggest concern is the increase in shootings across Chicago. Me and the volunteers are confident that we can provide a safe alternative for our players and that would not be possible without all the amazing support we get.

I want to thank the Chicago Cubs, Women’s Sports Foundation / EspnW (Sports 4 Life), Gibson Consulting LLC, South Shore Hospital, After School Matters, Coaches Across America (Up2Us), the SpringBoard Foundation, Target Foundation, Pitch IN for Baseball, Experience Baseball (Tobias rocks!), The Sports Shed (Tina is our Angel and Michelle is a saint) Rebecca Crown Center (CYC – Christy Byrne is amazing) and the many other companies that have given us grants, sponsorship, and other in-kind support to help us provide the best service possible to the children of South Shore.

We are growing, and we need your help to continue to do so.  Pretty soon our Board is going to launch a Capital Development Campaign so that we can house our programs and hire a staff member; when that time comes we are going to need your help in spreading the word so that we can raise what we need, will you pledge today in your heart to walk that walk with us?  Until next month I leave you with this quote:

Above All, keeping loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8


Yours in the battle,

LaVont’e Stewart Sr.