Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tis the Season

Christmas.....

I learned this year how much Christmas really means to me. This year I was the one coming home to my family. To make it back for the best two days (Christmas Eve and Christmas). I've said before, I come from a big family. One of three and extended families on both side, huge and awesome. This Christmas I realized how unique my family is and how blessed I am.

The week leading up to my departure was filled with quite a bit in such a short time. I encountered real life, "Mean Girls," and got to do my first circle! By myself! I walked in a little intimidated.... 7th grade girls ughh. By the end, I decided I won em over, no questions about it. It reminded me about what 7th grade was like... geeze, good luck. I feel like those are the years you just keep going..... kids are mean. The following two days were filled with wrapping AXE cologne kits, and hoodies and decorating the center. Oh and bagging up 250ish bags of candy. The cologne and hoodies were for Wednesday night circle/our centers Christmas for the boys. I'm pretty sure I went home both Tuesday and Wednesday smelling like cologne haha

Our center and Kolby House put together bags for kids in Juvi each Christmas. That way the kids in Juvi get something over the holidays, otherwise they would get nothing. Early in the week Sr. Donna and I had to go drop of bags to get them approved by Juvi, for letting us hand out bags. The candy bag was approved. However, a bag with: toothpaste, a tooth brush, short socks, and some kind of soap was not approved. Apparently tooth brushes can be chiseled down into a spear of some kind, creating a weapon to stab people and socks can be turned into a device to hang yourself.... reallllly? So, candy it is this year I guess? Dumb.

Tuesday night I went into Juvi to kick it. Usually the courts try to get as many kids home before Christmas as possible. So, numbers were down. Well.... I guess you could say that. That night I met a kid that I can pinpoint what, but he had some kind of mental disability/just.... wasn't all there. Played some Uno with him and tried to talk but, wasn't to successful. At the end of the night, on the way home I couldn't help but think about him. Why was he there? Whatever crime he committed I am betting he was taken advantage of, clearly without him knowing. He was doing someones dirty work, and I am betting he couldn't tell right from wrong? I can't assume to much... I guess just a possibility? (hardly)

At one point in the week one of the doors in our center got locked and we didn't have a key for that door. Of course behind that door were all of the Christmas presents. When I confronted the problem, it was kind for shrugged and I was told to go get one of the boys to help get it, "unlocked." By unlocked..... ehhh basically pick the lock. And after picking away, and kicked it in a bit, the door was opened. I've seen it done a few times now, I may just inherit this new trait haha I mean, it may come in handy some day. So.... as the worry of Christmas being locked behind a door was apparent, it quickly disappeared by breaking into the room! Hey if you got the skill, might as well use it for a good cause!

Finally, Wednesday came. After running around getting a sweet massage (a present for Christmas), and then getting some legit tamales for lunch and good conversation with some girls, finally one last thing to do, Christmas for the boys. We had dinner catered by an awesome Kolby House volunteer! Brisket yummmm. Off to circles, where the theme was, "What does Christmas mean to you?" As a rule, what's said in circle, stays in circle. But, the biggest theme was, "togetherness and family." All week between conversations with some girls, kids in Juvi, and conversation in Circle.... the theme of togetherness and family were beaming everywhere I looked. Some kids down on the South side never had a tree for Christmas, or the star at the top was considered a gang symbol rather than a guide for Mary and Joseph and the 3 wise men. Presents were nothing but a "real meal." Hopes of seeing family were the true present. Last post I talked about how I felt as if I lived in two different worlds sometimes. How I have my family life, a simple, safe, blessed life vs. the streets of the Ghetto, a life of violence. Two, obviously very different environments right? Well, maybe where I thought these two environments are very much crazy different.... guess what? They are pretty similar as well. If you talked with anyone in my family they would tell you that presents aren't really that big of the deal. Its about being together with everyone, talking, eating tamales and burritos, or ham and potatoes and simply being with each other is all that really matters. Very similar "themes," that were shared in circle with the boys. So, as I struggled with these two different worlds... things like this make it easier an easier to see my world as one, or helps me see that they aren't so much different. Amen to that!

So, as presents were handed out that night, I packed and literally had to sit on my suitcase to zip it up for my flight home and I have lived through the Christmas eve/Christmas madness and got to meet my new nephew/Godson, I have nothing but a smile on my face. I couldn't be more thankful this Christmas season :) Cheers to the Christmas season!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Trust

I think that I am finally gaining a little trust. Before I used to walk into a room and everything would go quiet. If the boys were joking around talking about whatever, they would just stop smile and stare at the ground. Now, they just keep on talking. The other day I was just sitting in the kitchen for probably an hour just talking... them talking about cars, music or whatever..... me listening and chiming in if I had anything to say. Then all of the sudden, they were asking me questions. Not silly things, but more serious things. (At this time I would like to thank my father, guess what, I actually do listen when you are lecturing me about my car!) They started asking me car questions, because I told them that someone was haggling them about their car troubles..... (I don't think I would EVER take my car to be fixed down here. Everyone is out to get more out of you. You take a car in, they tell you that you need to fix $1,000's of dollars worth of crap. In reality those things don't need to be fixed. Then if you do take it to be fixed regardless, there is the possibility that they break something on your way out so that you have to come back.... coooool, ok I shouldn't say this for ALL cases, but... it happens). It's funny because from the car conversation, it developed into a bank conversation. Savings, checking accounts, DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD, all the way to money CD's. I can honestly say that I struggle with all that money stuff. But my information to them was like opening a door they had never thought of. Instead of walking around with a wad of cash duhhhh open a checking account..... Things like that. It's nice to finally feel, I'm not exactly sure what the right word is.... lets go with "accepted." Finally!

I went out to lunch the other day with the girl I used to tutor to talk about whats been going on and if she wants to come back. Within the first 5 minutes she looked at me and simply says, theres something different about you since the last time I saw you (probably at least a month ago). I asked her what it was, and all she said was she thought I looked happier. The smile on my face wasn't forced, the way I carried myself now vs. when I first met her, was completely different. Like I was stronger or something. All I could think was did I look that bad before? Could people tell that I was definitely out of my comfort zone, forcing myself through the thick of the beginning? I guess I don't have such a great mask after all. (I had a soccer coach yell at me one time because I wore my expression on my face, there was no way I could tell a lie with my expression. I guess he was right, and so is the girl). But I'm not trying to hide anything anymore. I am happier now, and I do feel stronger but that's because I finally feel comfortable in my own shoes. Apparently I don't adjust as quickly as I wish I could.

So, to a new subject.... I need something. I need a project. Something to call my own. Something that I want to see at Precious Blood. Some kind of creative cool thing that I can tackle and accomplish.... I don't know what that thing is? Its like every time I put my thinking cap on, this cloud comes and sits over my head blocking out anything I should be thinking about.... thought? anyone?

These days I look forward to checking my mailbox! I used to go weeks in college and never check the box because it would be a waste of time. Nowadays, I get real stuff in the mail! Whether is a Christmas card, (oh and some b-day cards in there too) or just a hey how are ya letter OR a sweet care package from some awesome people back in good ol' Missouri! (Or maybe I am just anticipating some snow boots I ordered online, to get me through the crazy snow that is promised to come soon enough.) Either way, I love getting a little something because it helps me realize that I've got some support out there. I have been here for roughly 4 months. Things around me are starting to sink in as every day life. I almost forget how the outside world works. I know it sounds weird and kind of dumb. I've accepted life here on the South side as normal. I'm not shocked by a whole lot anymore, but when I tell someone about work or whatever back home, or just outside of where I work... they just shake their head and kind of laugh, out of shock and just say, Oh Bon, you life.... (Guess what... I like it, my life that is.)

The biggest thing that I think I have conquered this week is the fact that... yeah I feel kind of alone sometimes, but if I feel alone its only because I have chosen to feel alone. I have made friends here (ok they might not consider me a friend, friend, but they are all I have... the boys at the center), I have awesome co-workers (they bet on my sister having her new baby, on what time he would come! Regardless, the money came to me to go buy a little present representing Precious Blood, maybe I should go buy a little pair of sweet kicks, since that's what the boys always buy, new shinny shoes?), I have family and friends and even people I don't even know out there thinking about me.... Sounds pretty awesome to me!

So with that little sweet realization I have to give a little shout out to my GODSON! Little Harrison Bryan Norman is here, and healthy! 11:21am 8lbs 9oz. (true Kane baby right there) 21in. long. I got to skype with everyone while they were at the hospital, me at work. I cannot wait to get home and chillax with the little man! I am so happy for my sister and brother-in-law! Congrats!

And with that... I am off to ponder what sweet little something to get the new guy, I get lost somewhere for the weekend :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I believe I have some catching up to do.....

Warning: I apologise now, this could be a long one ;)

Here's a rough lay out:
Discrimination
17 dollars lighter
Help-Portrait
Birthday weekend
Shinan's (shenanigans)

We'll start out simple.... ha, I guess. Last week I had quite the convo. Someone was in to have their paper looked at, the paper was over "discrimination." So, myself and one of the boys started out with the basics, what is discrimination, what kind... wait? what kind of discrimination?-- you know, age, race, work, sex, ect ect ect. WOW timeout there is more than just race discrimination? (why yes, and so we begin) After internet searching, google (is great) and so forth, we stumbled upon this conversation. (I will try my best to relay the conversation) We are saying A-the other person B- is ME!

A. Bonnie can I ask you a question, and you promise you won't get angry with me?
B. I don't ever get mad, so of course you can.
A. You are here, the same age as I am, and you have this job. I could do your job. I know how to act, help and work with kids that come in and out of here. And you don't have their trust yet and don't know how to act with them yet. And you get paid for this. I feel like I have been discriminated against because you have this job and I didn't even get the chance.
B. But I don't get paid for this, I am a volunteer. I am here to learn and give back. I'm not here for recognition or a pay check.
A. But you get something in the end right? Like you are here because of school, or you will write a paper about this and get credit, or money for school right? Overall, you get something out of this right?
B. Sure, I get something out of this. I get the experience. I guess I get to add something else on my resume, thats all though...
A. Oh... well then you are here volunteering and its not part of school or anything like that. Volunteers always say that they are here to give back. Well, that's what all the older people say. They say they want to give back. But your 23 now, you haven't received anything. How can you give back something, if you haven't received anything yet?

Its like this idea keeps haunting me, poking at me every once in a while, right as I am forgetting, it pops up.-- So why are you here? Its like I am this huge mystery that everyone is trying to figure out.. surprise! I'm trying to figure it out too! It's interesting. I love being here, even if I am not doing a whole heck of a lot. I am learning more and more about people. Trying to think of ways to get some of these boys, some of my favorites to reach their potentials, trying to get them to think about the big picture, get them away from here. But, I don't know how.

Yesterday, I left 17 dollars in my purse. Strategically waiting for me to use it on my Target run to buy face wash and toothpaste. Well, I got to Target, picked up my desired whitening toothpaste and exfoliating face wash, opened up my wallet and BAM! Nothing was there. Cooooool. I guess I will confess and say that I'm not surprised that it didn't happen any sooner. I was mad, more than mad, pissed. The next day I was talking to one of the boys about it and he was so nice. He was sorry he didn't warn me sooner, or gave me some tips as to what I should have done. He just sat there and shook his head and apologized for whoever it was. Well, all I can hope for is that the money was spent on something good right (except who I thought it was miiiight have showed up later high..... nice) Moooooving on :)

Help-Portrait was a success, so I hear! I was unable to make it on that Saturday, but everyone said it was... organized chaos. So... sounds like a success to me!

My birthday weekend was fab! Best birthday I have had in years! No really! The past four years my birthday always landed on the week before college finals. Yuck! This year three of my best friends came up. We stayed down on Michigan ave. Shopped, walked, sight seeing, shopping, drinks, pizza, the bean, shopping. You know... all that fun stuff. It was so good! Now if only just one of them lived here!

I gave someone a ride yesterday and he asked me the next time we drove together, not to drive down the street that I did. Even though he wasn't in a gang, he was black, and he was in the wrong gang area. Good thing it was cold outside and there wasn't anyone hanging out outside.

I was at Juvi the other night and I was re-named Bonnie Blue Eyes (he doesn't know that my Grandpa calls me Bonnie Blue because of my blue eyes.) This kid was shocked by how blue my eyes were... or maybe he was hitting on me? Either way, we had a really good conversation. It kills me every time I meet a kid that is in Juvi for the first time. They are always so quite, scared and asking, how do I get through this? I hate Juvi. It makes me so mad thinking about how many kids are there and how they are treated.

Finally talked to the girl I was tutoring way back when. She is having family problems. There is so much going on with her I couldn't even begin to talk about everything going on with her. I guess my only question is, when can you tell someone that its time to worry about themselves than worry about everyone else?

Each week always circles around to the same problems: race, family problems, gang lines, discrimination, why is this crazy white girl still here? So here I am, blue eyes and all.... still here, thinking.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Help-Portrait

Here's where you come in....

Here at PBMR (Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, duuuuh where I work) we are collaborating with a project called Help-Portrait. The basic breakdown is, professional photographers come and volunteer their time at lower income areas. We strategically pick a place to house these photographers, people to do hair and make-up, everything! Families or people get to come and get their family photo's taken, and receive a FREE photo! Here is the video for this years campaign, I dare you not to shiver or smile when watching this video ;)


Told ya not to smile :) I am super excited to be promoting such an awesome event. It's funny to think about family photo's and thinking that some families have never had one before. Back home we have a whole wall of family photo's, you can buy a book at Urban Outfitters filled with "awkward family photo's (which I love picking up when I am there and leafing through it... classic). But through Help-Portrait you get this awesome opportunity for a family photo with REAL/Professional photographers AND a print out for FREE! So tight.

Here's the deal. We maaaay or may need a little funding. All proceeds go to buying the photo paper, ink, printers ect. No one makes any money here, we just need a little bit of help (who knew all paper and all that stuff cost so much!) Here is the link to donate: http://bit.ly/HP_Chicago 

My birthday is this Friday (if you didn't know ;)) and I have a few friends coming in town for it!!! Hopefully, I can talk em into volunteering for a bit at the event. hehe

Another way you can help is just send some positive vibes and prayers our way! This is the first time that we will be doing this here in Back of the Yards (the area I work in, they have this event elsewhere throughout the city as well). This week is our week to promote the event! EEEK! We just hope that we are successful in gathering a lot of families to come and take advantage of this awesome opportunity. So, be thinking about us, hoping that this is a success!

I wonder if I should just walk down the street with a big ol sign promoting all the info for the event in a Statue of Liberty costume would help? What......everyone else promotes stuff that way? haha

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Home Sweet Home: Thanksgiving addition

Ahhh a break from all the Chicago action for just a little while.... such a much needed break! I was beginning to think too much, ask too many questions, worry about nothing, stress about who knows what and have a constant antsy feeling like, I needed to be doing SOMETHING!

The day before I was to come home I was literally jumping all over the office, being an absolute crazy girl, laughing about anything and everything, jib jabberin about anything to whoever would listen. (And I only had one cup of coffee that day too! I am sure everyone thought I was a nut case haha) I knew that I would be coming home for a short stay and I couldn't sit still! After hours of running all over, packing, kind of sleeping I was finally on my way home! Once on the plane, a quick read through the latest People Magazine, a complimentary water and all of the sudden, "Welcome to Kansas City," came over the intercom. As lame as I am... not gunna lie, I miiiiiight have had some watery eyes and an escaped tear here and there. I was home.

As my week flew by, I learned a few things. My family is AMAZING (well I already knew that, but it never hurts to have a reminder here and there) Getting home, picking up my Niece and Nephew from school, game night at Grandpa's, my first night home, I was happier than happy. It's true what they say, "Home is where the heart is," (eww I totally sound like a cheese ball) family is who you are, they are the people that have truly been there for me. I've had some rough times and realizations in Chicago. Its those bad days that by chance I get a random e-mail, text, letter or phone call from one of them that has helped me push through every day. I don't think I can thank them enough for how much I love them. And of course, my friends never cease to amaze me. Those girls that have been my friends for so long, its funny, we may not see each other allll the time, but it doesn't matter. Time passes, but just because time passes doesn't mean the friendship does. You graduate college, run off in different directions, and when you take that path, you learn not only a lot about yourself, but about who cares about you, supports you and is truly there for you. This week has shown me who those people are. Its been an interesting realization to say the least ;)

I finally feel rested up, stuffed (no seriously, I still have a stomach ache), energized and .... happy. I would be a liar if I said that I didn't miss Chicago, because I have. I can't wait to get back and jump in on some new project, get some old ones re-kindled and do... what I do (again, still trying to figure that out haha)

So until Christmas here is the itinerary: (according to my nieces and nephew haha)
1. Bon-Bon's Birthday (Which I am VERY excited for some visitors and maybe my BEST birthday in YEARS!!)
2. Col-Col's baby is born (pretty bummed I will miss out on this one... BUT I call first dibs on him when I get back.... GODMOTHERS get to go to the front of the line... according to me!)
3. Christmas! (and then of course... thats all that matters to an 8, 6 and 4 year old! SO... thats all I'm planing for too)

I need to make a b-day/Christmas list... But I don't know what to put, I don't really need anything. I am a lot richer than I thought :)

I take that back.... I do need snow boots... but thats all! (rumor has it, this winter will be one of Chicago's worst winters, did I ever mention that I am a whimp when it comes to super cold weather? Yes, I did move to Chicago, knowing this.... Truelife: I am a nutcase.) Till... later- Peace

Look for a new update pretty soon! I need YOUR help with something!!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I get it... but I don't get it.

It has been really hard to try and explain to the boys why I am here. I can't say its my job, because its not. If I say I am a volunteer, there second question is why am I here all day and what is my second job? Finally concluding in, where do you live, how do you have money, and then of course when I tell them I am living with Sister Donna the next question is, are you a nun?

When I fully explain what I am doing here I get this small twinge of guilt mid sentence everytime. Here I am a college graduate, volunteering a year. The population I work with see's a college degree as the golden ticket out of their neighborhoods. Here I am with one, first comming to their neighborhood. They ask me why, why am I here? Why would I waste a year of my life, at 22, volunteering in the ghetto of Chicago?

I never know what to say now. In the beginning it was easy. Now that I have been here a little longer, gotten to know the issues of the culture, and have made friendships, its harder. Now I feel some what guilty. I have nice cloths, I don't wear the same thing every day or even twice a week. I don't worry about a cold house when I get home. I don't worry about food. All of those things are just minor issues. I don't worry about surviving, staying alive.

You always see movies coming out about the ghetto and how its portrayed and you think its so untrue. People belive racism is dead; non-existant. Some see the poor as lazy, dumb and African Americans as violent.

I'm not going to sit here and lecture or blab about social issues. No one wants to hear of some ones account or take on such issues. But each of the issues stated above... exist in a bigger way than many belive. Racism is very much still in our world. The poor have never been given good education and a quality chance to overcome... anything. African Americans are not violent.

All I am saying today is that.... I get it..... but I will never get it because I never lived it.

This week I was, for the first time scared. After that minor encounter it shook me up big time. Then I saw a movie that was very cleaver in disguising the portrayal of America and the poor and rich. These events all following the week before with the art exhibit. All these events and encounters made me shift in my ideas of why I am here and my views of the people around me.

I still can't answer the question, "why are you here?" Beacuse frankly.... i'm not exactly sure yet. What I can say is that I have learned far more than my college degree ever taught me, and its only been roughly, 3 months. And with my faith... I am here for a reason, I just haven't quite figured out why yet.... but in time, I will know.

So maybe the title of this blog shouldn't be, "I get it, but I don'g get it," but instead, "I get it, but I never will get it."

Monday, November 7, 2011

A weekend.....

 As promised.... another post after the eventful weekend! Saturday, along with co-workers, we took a group of the boys to Ohio. The boys that came were ones who come to the center frequently. We drove to Salina, OH where a fun little cabin awaited us. The big question was.... who was going to ride with me in my car? haha It was either me, or the van with Fr. Denny along with a TV and of course, the Xbox. Poor Jonathan had to ride with me first haha... after getting out of the city the music wasn't coming through.... this is what happens when all I have in my car is a Taylor swift CD...... haha oops


Once we got to the cabin, I felt like I was babysitting 10-11 year old boys instead of hanging out with 18-22 year old's. Each ran to the rooms to claim their place to sleep. Once that was done we went out to the little pond out back where the competition of skipping rocks began, and "who can hit the bush with a rock on the other side of the pond." In the distance you could see a deer stand... or in other words, "the club house." As they ran around looking at everything and laughing I couldn't help but laugh right along. Then they found one of those paddle boats and of course they had to pull that out.  


Getting a little too close to the water in the back?

Everyone in the boat: Success!

Of course there were a few, uh malfunctions. Once they were in, the peddles didn't work oopsies.... so they were just kind of.... floatin around. And then of course they got scared and jumped out as soon as they got close to the edge, no one grabbing the rope. So, it went a float. haha I have not laughed that hard in a long time, tears streaming down my face. Amazingly enough, no one actually fell in, just a little water on the shoes.

Later in the night, as it began to get a dark outside, I guess the environment created some creative minds? The boys thought it would be a great idea to make a movie! Of course a murder movie. Typical, car breaks down, creepy house near by and people are disappearing left and right ;) Yes, we made a movie.... well only half. After yelling how the plot would go, and then filming some we got a little side tracked. Too bad though.... I think it would have been a hit haha

Sunday morning we woke up, ate some fillet Mignon and eggs (no that was not a typo.... that was breakfast, compliments of Trader Joe's donations). Then off to Dayton to see an art exhibit. The exhibit was titles, "KKK: Kin Killing Kin," by James Pate. The art was a powerful and thought-provoking series of images reflecting Pate’s deep love for youth and his great concern for the epidemic of youth violence in the African American community. This is one of the most critical social ills of our time—Youth violence. Here is some of his art.






                                                                              
"Your History" I'm the king of the drug trade, Which is the number one option and the number one means of commerce that dominates my exposure. I am ready to kill or be killed by any kin that opposes my effort. I'm prepared to lose my life at the hand of any kin in defense of my commodity. I'm a descendant of the Ife Kingdom Olokun, founder of the Yoruba Dynasty of West Africa. I am what I am not.




After viewing the art work we got to meet the artist, James Pate. The exhibit was moving and the conversation was beautiful. As we sat in circle and listened to the voices and stories of many African American males that came just to see the boys, I couldn't help but sit there and watch each of their faces. Each face was so involved, every one of them grasping on each word that was shared. Then they shared their lives, their troubles and triumphs, their wishes. (To a minimal.)

During the Civil Rights movement over 6,000 African Americans were lynched. In our world today 2,000 African Americans are killed because of youth violence. Many of those killings are brothers killing brothers. Many of these pictures hold a history of America's past and Americas present. In many of the pictures if you look the into the backgrounds you find African Americans being hosed down by firemen, in the foreground, kin killing kin. What America fought so hard to make disappeared, is still present today. It's just in a different form.

This weekend I got to watch these boys evolve from the men they are into silly teenagers running around a cabin doing things I did when I was 4 years old (skipping rocks) riding in a boat (any time) and making a video (definitely did that in high school) then back into men. I got to hear what they thought of the art, hear about their lives and get to know them a little bit more. I know I have barely been here at all but I had this feeling of being.... proud. Proud and privileged to be able to just sit and watch them, even if I am the intimidating white girl that's always around, skinny and pretty eyes. I'll take what I can get :)  



Friday, November 4, 2011

Just another week....... (whatever that means)

Last weekend I had the blessed visit of some familiar faces! My Mom and sister came to visit!!! It was definitely perfect timing. I was able to take the weekend to just relax, stay in a nice hotel and feel as if I was almost on a vacation as well! I showed em the hood, then we walked through Grant Park, people watched in Millennium park by the bean, shopped around a bit and caught Mary Poppins on Saturday! (I am kicking myself now for not taking ANY pictures... so dumb.) Sunday we walked Navy Pier and relaxed at the hotel and then caught a Second City show.Of course we grabbed some Garrett's Popcorn and Gino's deep dish pizza. My favorite part of the weekend though was just sitting and doing nothing. For the first time in a long time I was able to just sit and relax. I didn't have to stress about anything (I am learning I stress about way to much...and for no reason at all) I was in my comfort zone where I could just fall asleep on the couch, or sit and talk about anything I wanted. I didn't have to explain myself or worry about what someone thought about what I was saying. I was with family. I miss that comfort zone.

The past week I got a new education. Halloween. In the past I would have had 3 different costumes for the different parties in college. This year... I didn't dress up at all (that was kind of sad haha) Most people know that Halloween in the ghettos are known as gang initiation. In the Hispanic culture they refer to it as Day of the Dead; a day to come together and remember those who have died. Now, put all those things together.... what do you get? Killing and violence. The Thursday before Halloween there was a gang war not far from where I work. In remembrance of a former gang member, one gang went after the other. One boy was killed, another hospitalized. When Monday came everyone in the office was almost a little on edge. You could feel minds spinning, questions to the boys, "What are you doing tonight?" ect. Trick or Treaters leave the neighborhood to go elsewhere or one street is protected by police to allow safe trick or treating. Some areas restrict Trick or Treating hours 3-6 (daylight). I can see about a bazillion things wrong with this picture. How many do you see?

Wednesday night we had a bonfire in the parking lot of our center! We are celebrating 100 days of peace; Make your voice heard! How/what will you do to make peace heard in your community? We had a bonfire and invited local non-profits in the area, shelters and neighbors down the block. It was a success. We think maybe 75-100 people came! I of course was so excited because I would get to have a yummy s'more made on an actual bonfire (my former diet I had 2 summers ago when I was working in Yellowstone)! When we were inviting people, some of the boys said they had never had a s'more before, or roasted hot dogs. I was shocked. When the bonfire was built I think that they all thought I was nuts roasting my hot dog and making a s'more. As they watched many other people doing the same all the sudden they were all over that fire doing the same. AND enjoying it! Just because they may look burnt, doesn't mean they taste burnt. It was a fun night. We are trying to, "Put the neighbor back in the hood."

I woke up this morning, walked outside... annnnd had my first parking ticket...Welcome to Chicago.... apparently there was a sign A BLOCK down from where my car was, that said that the street was supposed to be cleared for street cleaning.... thank God a neighbor was out and said that the neighbors were going to fight it. Apparently no one else saw the sign either and got a ticket as well.... so fingers crossed we win? So lame. At least the neighbor was super nice and helpful!!

Agenda for the day/weekend: China town (I need a new phone cover... pray I can find one WITHOUT Hello Kitty on it!), Remembrance mass tonight and then tomorrow-Sunday myself and Fr. Denny are taking a group of boys to Dayton, OH to see an art exhibit called, Kin Killing Kin (KKK, play on words?) So, it should be an interesting weekend to say the least. Check the blog on Sunday... I am sure there will need to be an update.

Until then, happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Education

Education: If proper education were given to everyone, what would our Nation look like?

It's interesting what kind of people you meet, and conversations you get into down here in, "Back of the yards." I get to sit and listen and watch what is going on around me. Here at work, every day is different. Some days I am busy tutoring away. Other days I have nothing to do. But that's the best part, because then I get to just sit and talk to who ever walks in the door. The boys are starting to recognize that I will be here for a while. I am always warmly greeted with a hand shake or a smile. I love it.

I was talking to Sr. Donna about who knows what and we started talking about education. Between boys and girls in Juvi and who walk through our doors, we come in contact with many young people. I am always impressed to meet and listen to whatever they have to say and I am always impressed by some of them. There are so many of these kids who are so smart and well spoken. You hear what they have to say, and sometimes I feel like I could close my eyes and be listening to some impressive lecture. No joke. Or even if they are in Juvi for drugs or for whatever reason they are there. There are some that can do math quicker than I can (okay maybe that's not saying much..... I'm not a huge fan of math). Or know how to do things I had no idea possible like: prying the metal part of a pencil off to stick it into a light socked (apparently its not strong enough to electrocute you, but fumes come out of it... sooooo you can smell it......) Sure, that knowledge definitely is not necessary, but that's smart stuff. The point that I am getting to is..... what if these minds were taught and given proper education. They are more than qualified. The brains down here are good minds. Those minds are thrown into jail because of their actions, but what if they had real education? It just bewilders me to think that there could be writers, activists, politicians, doctors, nurses, lawyers ... down here. If only education got more attention and took care of more children..... Maybe there wouldn't be as many arrests, killings, shootings, gangs? Sure you could argue that they had a different education, raised differently than myself.... duh. Of course I don't know how to hot wire a car in 5 seconds. There is street smarts sure, but what about education. If some of the kids had education like myself... how it should be.... What would our world look like?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

new tastes yummmm

This week has been the week of some new things that were actually pretty delicious. The girl that I am working with, teaching her how to read, and I decided to take a little field trip. We had been talking all week about different food in the area, what were her favorites and so on. So, Thursday when I picked her up she directed me to a little place around where she lives, which is in the Hispanic area of "Back of the Yards." That is where we got these little goodies. I  forgot what they are actually called though... (I know I'm a genius) The one on the left is like a yogurt parfait... but different! The yogurt is much lighter and thinner than yogurt. Mixed in is a whole bunch of different fruits; strawberries, bananas, guava, papaya and then some granola. Then we got these other things, (on the right) They are everywhere. Whenever you look at a street side vendor in our area you always see these pin wheel things. Traditionally you add lemon juice and chili. I don't really know how to describe them other than they are NOT good for you, and they are delicious.


I have learned that we have to throw in some fun things. Teaching someone older how to read is hard enough. There are times that both her and I get frustrated with each other. But, adding in a little fun and letting her teach me something (food and there Spanish sayings) helps out a lot. It has helped keep the two of us on an equal playing ground. (This coming week is.... taco week!!! I cannot wait.)





Here are a few things I have come in contact with this week that I have become even more aware of. Racism (I was dumb enough to think that in the 21st century there wasn't very much racism anymore) stupid me... its everywhere.... just in a different form. I was talking to an African American PO (probation officer) and a fellow co-worker (she is Hispanic). It is safe to say that I am the minority in my work, neighborhood environment. There is so much crime, drugs and gang violence ect in the area I work in. Talking specifically with these two people they expressed their feelings and insights. Black; its not a race, its a color. African American peoples identify themselves as so many different things, same with Hispanic--lesson 1. There are lighter and darker complexions that as a white person we may see but we never associate it with any kind of meaning--lesson 2. (ex. a darker Hispanic means they are from Mexico, which means more traditional/lower class) My Hispanic co-worker expressed how people treat her differently in the area when I am with her, because I am white. Its like, people are more careful.... if that makes any sense. (ex. if something were to happen to me, the cops would be on it in a matter of seconds..... not my observation, just what I have been told) lesson 3--There is corruption in the police system. Its like there is a rank of who is important, highest to lowest. How sad is that? lesson 4-- I have never thought about any of this.... from the two I was talking with replied, "there is no reason that you would have......you don't see it and you never will because of your color" (this was said not in a mean way, just matter of factly...) wow. (eeee talking about this makes me feel like I am walking on glass, I don't want what I write to come out wrong! So, if it sounds bad.... call me, I'll explain better on the phone).

I went to juvi this week and kind of got smacked in the face by my physical appearance. I walked in, no big deal, wearing jeans flats and a nice cardigan and plaid headband. I didn't think anything of it. One of the girls looked me up and down and told me I looked like a white, rich girl who her mommy and daddy spoil and buy me everything I want. ouch. My rebound was that I had paid for everything that I was wearing and somehow spun it into a lesson. Teaching her that with my hard work, going through college with a part time job at a clothing store paid off..... she bought it. But the fact of the matter was that, that was the last thing I wanted one of those kids to look at me and see. Truth: what I told her is 100% true. But... I'm not there to look all superior and uppity. I am there because I want to be. I'm not there to preach, just there to talk. Some of them get it....but....some just see me as she saw me, and that sucks.

As this week has ended, I look forward to see whatever happens in the coming week. I have learned to never plan anything, just go with it. I have also learned I am quick on my toes (surprised the heck out of me). Who knows who will walk through the door, who I will meet, what kid will come in with an open wound (yes, that 2 and a half years of nursing school paid off... I had a patient the other day... nursing friends how do you feel about super glue stitches... Lord knows he can't/won't go get actual stitches....) I am optimistic.... what else can I be?

Friday, October 14, 2011

the new girl

Ahhh I love Friday mornings.
1. sleepin in a little bit
2. run or not to run (oh wait that has been every day... I need motivation for that part of my mornings)
3. off to Bridgeport coffee house. yummm long mornings in a coffee house, enjoying my vanilla latte, writing on this thing and simply watching time pass by as I write, catch up and people watch.....

Earlier this week... Wednesday I wrote a post but decided to delete it. That day I got a care package from a friend, and I must say it was very thought out. Each little item represented something only a best friend would know. A care package is supposed to make you happy and at ease.... this one made me cry. Cry a lot harder than I have since I have been here. So I escaped the walls of my apartment to wallow in a chi latte. In the deleted Wednesday post I complained and spoke of being homesick and questions of why I came here in the first place. All these doubts came drifting through my mind. And then I had a phone call from someone brilliant. As I sat there in near tears complaining, he simply said... well... what did you expect? Did you expect everything to be easy? Did you expect to have friends in 5 minutes after you were there? You need to take it easy.

No one had really told me to sit back and "take it easy." No one had put me in my place and made me think. As I sat there and really thought about who I was, who I was becoming, did I like who that person was? All these thoughts came into play and as I walked home, the moment I walked in the door I turned my computer on and deleted that Wednesday night post asap. That person Wednesday night was sitting there feeling sorry for herself.  I decided to get over her, she's gone. Though there are times that I come in contact with people, places or stories that make me feel... sad... or I may get homesick, I know that I have to just keep moving. And the longer I sit and think I am alone the more I turn into that girl who feels sorry for herself. (I don't like her) There are so many opportunities that I have been presented with. Instead of feeling awkward and a burden (how I have felt in the past) I have decided to just go with it, have fun, and be the "new girl." I have embraced her. (and I must admit I like her a lot.) I have a new strength and a new courage to myself. I feel much more comfortable in my shoes.

Enough of that whole emo shmeeemo junk.... moving on :)

Teaching someone to read ----- NOT easy.
The English language is absolutely ridiculous. Why does every stupid letter have if not 2 but 3 different sounds? and then stupid rules like the "y" sounds like "y" or "ie" (ready) or "ya" (yellow)???? Then when you explain all that, some other stupid word comes along that all I can say is "well you just have to memorize that word. That's just what it is, that's how you read it. So, memorize it..... dear lord ...... I am not an educator.... just trying... very hard!

Oh, have I mentioned that my patience kind of sucks. I have always thought I was a pretty patient person. (My Mom would say otherwise. I have to admit.... she was right.... hate it when that happens)

I wish I could sit and talk about Juvi and type everything out. But it is way to much and so hard to explain. There are stories and faith that I have learned from so many of those kids. Then there are times that some of those kids and straight liars. I must admit, they tell a pretty good story. There are so many times that I want to call them out, and tell them that they don't have to tell a lie to me. Some I do, but some I don't. If telling a "story" makes them feel better so be it. Another thing about Juvi, I have learned. So many times I get waved down by a unit, so many want to "pray," (aka this gives them a chance to hold my hand... dear lord) or some ask for a hug. I have learned that I have to laugh and walk away. The first time I fell for the "praying," request I got the reaction of... "your hand are so soft girl," or "you smell so good girl." So... needless to say slowly but surely I have indeed learned. A wave, smile and "God bless" is just fine sometiems. You know when a kid is serious or not. But... I have learned to just go with it, in a guarded way. I don't mind most of the time... if it bothered me that much... then I would fear going back... instead I almost look forward to returning... so.....

I think I need to take a yoga class or something... to practice some meditation... Somehow I need to stay a little mentally balanced. As the weather is nice right now.... what happens when Chicago freezes me? I can't go running in crazy snow? huh new mission...... Groupon please present a cheap alternative to running!

Well, I have people watched for far to long and my poor latte is almost yucky cold.... I better head to the center to gear up for a sweet "College prep/discussion/circle!" A new little thing a co-worker, intern and I are starting. Hopefully some of the boys show up... fingers crossed!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. (dictionary.com)

Hope is a word that I think I come in contact with every day. Whether it is lost, given up on, forgotten, betrayed by, wanted or desperately clung to. I've kind of talked about it before but it comes up so much more often than I thought. Specifically there is a girl that I met in Juvi and I cannot wait for her to come to our center soon! I met her while she was in for her first offense. From that first meeting I had this feeling that this place (juvi) is not where she should be. She has a loving family, has gone through some major hardship and has every reason to give up (Though I still don't know why she is in there... all she keeps saying is that she was helping someone out?) She has my card (ohh yeah that's another exciting thing! I have my own cards now! I'm like official or something.) But she sat their talking, coloring the wall of her cell (its part of an art project.... don't worry she was allowed to color on the walls) talking about how she understands why she is there ect ect. She wants to come to our center so that it keeps her busy and out of trouble. She just needs someone to talk to. (Oh and she was outraged that I haven't really been shopping around the city.... she may just be my shopping tour guide..... ) My biggest surprise was that she still had hope. No one had taken that from her. yet. Hopefully, she will never lose it. not on my time. But she is only one example of someone who still has hope. Others... that's a whole other story.

Over the past two weeks I have checked out and been a part of some seminars and lectures (oh lala). One was on the jail system in our country and the other was about working with youth. The one on the jail systems opened up my eyes to a whole problem I have never even considered. I have always thought that whoever is in jail deserves it, they obviously have done something to get there. (If co-workers are reading this I PROMISE I HAVE CHANGED MY IDEA!!) Putting a child in jail serves maybe 1% of good. Hey, I mean they get some free meals and get to sit and watch some movies (which have guns and violence in them, real helpful in teaching anything right?) and just relax. Talking to one youth he said that his first time in, he didn't mind it because he just hung out. Another youth was outraged by the whole system because she has to earn a certain level (you get some privileges if you are a "good kid." She has to earn a level 4 privilege just to see her child). Why does she have to earn time to see HER child. ohh she was heated. Can't disagree with her either. At least she wants to see her child. (That isn't always the case). Why isn't there more money put into programs of discipline and learning? Instead there are thousands, I'm sorry Millions.... of dollars put into building huge stone walls, having the latest security systems, and not only structures, but employing people to work in the jail. You add that all up and you would be shocked! (I know I was) If a quarter of that money were put into after school programs for kids maybe there would be no reason to send a kid to jail because instead of being busy playin some ball they were robbing the gas station on the corner. Or if a crime was committed, why can't we put money into programs that actually work to teach kids something rather than shutting them up in a closet for a week? Believe me I could go on for hours and I realize this is only cracking the surface because I have only just began to learn.

I came into this experience thinking, "Hey yeah I get to work with at risk youth. Some may have come from jails, but I will get to talk and work with them and make them a better person!" Oh Bon. All I was thinking was that I wanted to help and learn. And oh have I learned. You can't try and tell them how to be successful. You have to listen. Think of success. Everyone has their own definition. I feel successful because I dreamed up a dream to serve volunteer other than KC. I succeeded. The biggest thing I have learned here in the past couple of weeks is presence. Presence can be one of your strongest tools and it can be the biggest difference in one of the kids lives. Has anyone ever really listened to them? no. (Hey PBMR spirituality!)

Over the past few weeks I have certainly found myself in a different world. I knew it would happen, but I guess I just didn't think it would be completely as is. I have not only two parents who are (aaaamazing) and are still together, two siblings, both still living. I have never had friends who were in gangs. I grew up never having to worry about food on the table or money. I got to grow up slowly (as it should be). I got to experience everything a kid should be able to experience. Talking with some of the boys and girls that walk in and out of our door I am shocked by the experiences that they grew up with. Again I am shocked by how I respond. I just sit and listen and ask more questions and they share what they want. They know (well maybe) I did not grow up as they did, yet they don't seem to care at all. I don't know how to put how that feels. Its not that I feel sorry for them, because then that sounds like I am judging. I guess its just hope. I hope that they can turn their experiences into memories that they do not want to re-live. I hope that they want to better themselves. I hope that they go to school to earn an education and learn to love and make a difference. I can sit and hope all I want. But sitting here and hoping for all these things doesn't do a whole lot. I gotta be present and put a little action into that hope.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans:8 24-25

(These blog posts are soooo scatter brained. If you can follow then I applaud you.)

Check out my card. ahaha



Friday, September 30, 2011

Miss Bonnie?

This week has been an interesting week. Its hard to think back to the beginning of the week! I have found myself in so many new things, new feelings, frustrations, good Lord I could go on for hours (but I don't want to be that person who blogs about every little ridiculous thing.. I hate that)

Next to our center was this big, beautiful church. But they tore it down. dumb. Anyways, there is this section where, I am guessing the basement was. Well the rubble has made this sort of cave looking thing. Yesterday, this woman came in. She lives in there with her abusive husband. She has 5 kids, they have been taken away by social services. A near by women's service have this whole plan in Kansas City (of all places eh). However, she needs to get there. She came to us for help in just ordering a ticket, in secret so that her husband doesn't find out. She said that she will have to "get the money first." I'll let you guess how she "gets her money." She went on to tell us a story about her and her life. The sisters of Precious Blood will be buying her ticket to Kansas City to start her life over so that she doesn't have to go, "get her money," and so that she can get away from her abusive husband...
This is where she was living.

I am now tutoring three people! One with math and basic English. Which I have to google multiple times looking up how to do things or what things are. He just sits there and laughs at me. Another with how to write speeches and a persuasive paper. (I HATE writing papers) So that's always fun. Thank God for citationmachine.com. I did listen and learn SOMETHING in high school English haha. The last is my biggest challenge. She is 26 years old. I am teaching her to read. She has a story that hits so many different issues and have already taught me so many things. She went to school until 8th ish grade, had her first kid at 14. I won't go into her personal story, but here's the different things that we talked about in the first meeting.

Many public schools (especially in Back of the Yards) pass kids to get them out of the school. You would think that reading would be at least some kind of a priority right? no. One of her sons is starting to have problems with reading and she can't help him, because she herself cannot read. She is trying to get some special attention for her son, because she doesn't want him to fall behind like she did. But the school does not provide after school help..... all he wants to do is read... really?

All this time she has wanted to ask for help. But has always been afraid, or people tell her she is dumb and stupid. She didn't think there were any services for, "people her age." Such as classes, she thought she was to old.... again, she is only 26.
1. I hate hearing stories about people that have no support in their life
         Fact: that's every day here
2. Why does she think that there are no services out there for people like her? There are so many!
         Fact: Why would she know? Its pretty hard to get the word out to people around here... and for them  to actually trust .... Trust is a whole other issue...

What kind of an atmosphere does she live in? Gangs. Gang bangers (yes... I totally did just say it... it is almost part of my everyday vocabulary these days).

She is an inspiration to me. Here she is, finally asking for help. Trying to better herself for her kids. She has slowly pushed her way out of what she does not want to be a part of. Yet, still lives in the midst of it all. I will learn from my experience with her... maybe even Spanish! Her hopes and dreams- to learn how to read, further move on to getting her GED, going to hair school...
Biggest aspiration: CNA/Nursing school.
My mission: being a part and doing whatever I can to help her accomplish
SOS... teachers out there please, please PLEASE give me some pointers on "teaching someone to read." (Dear Jesus)

Juvi-- I have officially been going for two weeks now. After this past Tuesday I was dying to go back on Thursday... weird ehh. I have slowly made friendships with some boys on the Omega units (these are the boys that are tried as a juvenile, but will only stay in this facility till they are 17. Then they are moved to the county jails to finish their time. Also, these are the boys that are sentenced for many years... If lucky just 2-5... but others 10-20-30 years..... you can decide what they are there for... I'll let you :)) I have found myself talking with these, boys taking notes on when their court dates are, making them explain "the system," to me (which they love because they totally think I'm this dumb white girl). I have also learned how to successfully play spades, (jail style, smashin it ect) I now know the difference between "people and folk," and new words have been added to my vocabulary. Oh and they call me Miss Bonnie.... ahah

I was talking to one of the boys about Hope. He was almost to tears/wouldn't make eye contact with me during this conversation because he had lost all hope.

"This place was built to destroy all hope, and all feelings I have ever had. Hope is nothing."
    -- Jail.

How am I supposed to rebound from that? Surprisingly... I came back with the wisest words that I have ever heard come out of my mouth... and it also bought me more time to figure out what to say the next time I went back (yesterday). He wanted to talk again. When I came back he was shocked that I actually came back. However, we had to postpone the convo for next week. The boys got in a fight in their unit and were locked into their cells... oh geeeeze what have I gotten myself into?

I could probably talk for hours about each of these things. I only touched on the "overview," of me week. But... this is just a little update on what I am up to. Wanna hear more... call me. I have zero plans for the weekend. As I head off into my weekend and still await the week ahead mentally preparing myself to teach someone to read, get a lady away from her "cave home" and from her abusive husband, and thinking about "hope."

Oh NO! I have become that person who writes about waaaaaay to much. Ehh at least I didn't tell you what I ate each day.

Good thing I have an app to find happy hours near by me :) 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Juvi.......

Well, I went and I survived and I think I even liked going to the Juvenile Detention center! From here on out, I will be going every Tuesday and Thursday night. Here's the deal, we get there and you go through all these crazy security check points. I have a little badge that says I'm allowed and official to be there. I'm with the church... haha Soon we enter these elevators to take us to the different floors of kids. Each floor is assigned to different kinds of kids who committed crimes. One floor might be minor misdemeanors, others are more serious. (obviously)

You would think I would be scared out of my life, how and what am I supposed to talk to these kids about? I'm just this white girl from Kearney, Missouri. Naive little girl who looks like she is still in the 8th grade half the time. I was challenged the second I walked into one of the rooms with stares from guys that could easily break me physically and mentally om half. That whole intimidation thing. I knew what I was getting myself into. But I walked in smiling and waving, over confident. I had no idea what I was doing, but they didn't know that. So I pretended. I talked to each of them like I would a friend. I think they were shocked. They stuttered and then didn't know what to talk about at first. Then they just started talking, and opening up to conversation; why they were there, how long, do they regret it, what they want to change ect. Everything and anything. Then before I left they asked to pray. Simple as that. I was overwhelmed by the faith and hope of some of these boys.

Its true, those boys that are in Juvi...Truth: they need re-direction and discipline. But those boys are only boys. Scared for their lives, wanting to get out of gang life, wanting to be safe, wanting someone to care. They haven't come across much to be proud of nor any kind of opportunity to better themselves. Maybe they have been to Juvi 6 times. You would think they would learn right? Wrong.... its just a way of life here. Someone deals drugs to feed their family. Someone was at the wrong place at the wrong time. If you were born into this environment, how do you get out... alive? without scares? with someone who actually cares about you? Good luck.....

My hope for so many of these boys.... there are places that can help, but they have to decide and take advantage of whats good. It has to be their choice first. The boys at the center I work at are great. They are here because it is a safe environment for them. They do want to better themselves, they do want to get their GED so that they can get a degree in the future and feed their family. Our walls are only so thick. When they leave, yes they can always come back tomorrow, but they have to make the right decisions out there. Sometimes the difference between right and wrong is a tough one. I too am learning that.

As I mentally prepare myself to head back to Juvi tonight, I have made sure NOT to wear my skinny jeans (big mistake... maybe I'll go wash my makeup off before hand too?) I am sure to walk in over confident and ready for yet... just another Thursday night...

Monday, September 19, 2011

And so my first full week begins.....

Recap: Last week I want to, "Circle training!" I am now 100% certified to lead a circle! It is still hard for me to actually explain exactly what Circle is. This technique can be used for a multitude of things such as: peace, reconciliation, sharing, community, the list goes on and on. Basically it is a way to address an issue, feeling, or even a crime from all angles. By sitting in circle a relationship is eventually established and people talk one at a time on what the issue may be. In the end things aren't always resolved and it may even take more than one circle. But the overall hope and accomplishment is basically pointing out similarities and truth.

(As I read through this description I realize it makes about almost zero sense. Hopefully, I will lead a circle soon enough to be able to explain with my own, personal experience)

This past weekend I was blessed by perfect timing of some familiar faces. Some family came in town for adventures to a Cubs game, Solider field for the NIU/Wisconsin game, and ventures throughout the city. I am so thankful for my family. They truly are such a support and rock to keep me grounded. I still think that I might have one of the best families around!

Here I sit my first full week of work beginning. Last week I met with a boy that I will be tutoring. He luckily has avoided being a part of a gang. However, at 18 he's seen plenty of violence related to gangs. I will be helping him get his GED. He does not attend school. However, I am starting to wonder if public high school is even worth it here in, "Back of the yards." The public schools here, in my opinion are just another venue for isolated gang violence. Guns make it past metal detectors every day, there isn't near enough security for the overpopulated school, and teachers.... ha! Good luck, just because they are there you have to ask how they can actually accomplish a lesson in the classrooms when there aren't even enough desks for the kids to sit in. I haven't been to one of the schools yet to see all this myself, I guess you could say this recollection is only word of mouth here at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. If it were my own personal experience, I am betting mine would be 5x worse.

Back to my 18 year old who I will be tutoring. He is basically homeless, and word is, he has tried to get his GED multiple times in the past but has always given up. If its up to me this kid WILL get is GED in the amounted time given. I will (OK I already have) bribe him. (not really, I just told him I would bake a Carmel cake... if anyone has any recipes I am in dire need... I have no idea how to make a Carmel cake! hah) So we set everything up last week, he was to come in today at 12.... guess what... no show. Here I was all excited, we had discussed everything and I told him that this is his decision, I'll help but ultimately he has to decide and do the work to accomplish this. It's not about me.

Today at 1 he called me to apologise. He didn't make it down here because....basically he's afraid to ride the bus. He's scared to ride the bus in broad day light/middle of the day. I'll let you imagine why. He promised he will be here tomorrow.... so I am praying he makes it here tomorrow..... Because gosh darn it... he WILL get this GED...... done and done....

so...
until tomorrow.....

Last thing, I was just assigned a circle. Me and another co-worker are to set up a circle between a 16 year old and a police officer. The kid robbed this officer. As part of his sentencing, he was given some time with "Project Re-pay," (a service we offer the kids as a community service kind of project) and the option of doing a, "Circle," with us. Now begins the planning... ahhhhhhh time will be a little delayed because he is not out of juvi yet. It may be a possibility that I see him there? Who knows!

It's only my first Monday and from here on out..... game on (I have a feeling there may never be a dull moment in this office..... I love it!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Still here!

Well... its been quite the whirlwind of emotions and I have only been here for three and a half days! When I was driving into the city I couldn't decide if I should puke or get out of my car and dance... such a toss up I know. As I followed my GPS I ran into a Target! I knew this place would be great! After being welcomed into the city (honked at multiple times), I realized that I needed to become a more aggressive driver I suppose? Such a warm welcome. Then I realized that every street in Chicago is basically a one way street (thank God I can read signs) and that every intersection has a stop sign. cooool.

As I drove around the area I felt at home. I live in the "Bridgeport" area. It's diverse, cute, has a fab coffee shop and of course every kind of food imaginable. I love it.

My little apartment with Sister Donna is small, but homey. My room is similar to Harry Potter and the closet under the stairs... haha no just kidding! I love it! I have my own bathroom, and my closet is down the hall, so that's interesting. Living with Sister Donna is good. I think the lady may have more energy than I do. We watched the Saints, Packers game the other night together and she got so excited when, "those guys started running and their little legs move so fast, its just so much fun." I wake up every morning with coffee already made, its delicious. The other night we went to this Mexican restaurant called mi tierra (I think) for a marg. haha It was an awesome, crazy family style restaurant. Very authentic, there was a crazy mariachi band and I think we might have been the only white people in there. It was awesome. Oh and they had different flavors of margs, had a Guava one... sooo good and the rim was covered in that chili pepper stuff. Very interesting....

Yesterday, I tried my navigation skills at the public transportation system! I took the L down town. I live right next to the Orange line which takes you directly into the heart of the city. Very convenient. As I went to put my CTA card into the machine, I couldn't figure out how to do it... total newb status.... Some worker man had to show me and then proceeded to tell me that I better run up the stairs because the train is just about to leave me..... I made it haha As I rode into the city i'm pretty sure my eyes were glued to my phone to make sure I didn't leave that little blue floating dot on my route to downtown, (best iPhone app I could have downloaded) I made it to Grant park! Then walked around aimlessly... such a great afternoon.

I'm not for sure what I am going to do today. Sister Donna and I came for breakfast and coffee at this cute little coffee shop called, Bridgeport Coffee House. I think it may be my home away from home (aka The Roasterie). I think I may head to the Northwest side (probably not really what I am supposed to call it) for a craft/art fair... oh la la

Tomorrow I shall be traveling to Dayton, OH for circle training! I am quite excited to see what this technique is all about. I filled out my Juvenile Hall papers, so in a week and a half I will be spending some time in Juvi Tues/Thurs chillin with some gangsters. Be jealous ;)

Through the past few days, though I'm sure I have made it all sound like glamour and amazingness, I have realized more than ever that I live hundreds of miles away from everything that I know. Especially everyone I know. I miss you friends and family. I'm pretty good at being independent I suppose, but I miss having someone to go on adventures with. Buuut i've only been here three and a half days, so I should stop complaining.

Off to some adventure, hopefully I don't get lost! Or maybe I should ..... hmm

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The beginning....

I can't really decide how I should start this whole blog thing. I'm still wondering how I ended up where I am. Never would I have thought I would be running off for a year to some city I know ..... ehh not a whole lot about to volunteer for a year. Here I am less than 24 hours before I hop in my little car filled with the things I "think," I will need for the next year (we'll see how that goes) to head to Chicago!

For starters I will warn you-- Do not judge me on my grammar, lets be honest it sucks. My high school English teachers thought so as well. So bare with me... I had a very hard time coming up with a title for this thing so I asked my nieces and nephew and they came up with:
The Dora Maker (Eme) annnnd
Fart Machine (Creason)
I don't know how I passed up those names....

Ever since I can remember I have loved doing volunteer work. Some of my cousins may call me a "do-gooder." Some may say it was my parents who first started me out volunteering at anything and everything. Maybe it was friends, a youth minister.... who knows. Then I choose to do a year of service work. I cannot tell you exactly when I knew I wanted to do that either. What I do know is that I cannot wait to see how this year turns out.

For a year I will be working for Precious Blood Ministries. There are many different avenues or areas in where I could work and be involved with. So for me to tell you exactly what I am doing, I can't because I don't really know yet. I know that I will be working with kids and teens of all ages, those in or out of juvenile facilities. I will be helping with "Peace circles," (a technique of sorts that I will have to update later on, because I don't know exactly how to explain them yet) mentoring, after school programs, tutoring, ect. (and by ect. I mean... ehhh who knows what else.)

Some of you may know this, some not but I promised a little bit of a paragraph dedicated to my roommate. Most volunteer programs room you with a group of fellow volunteers as your "community living," situation. Well Precious Blood has a little bit of a difference. I will be living with a Nun, Sister Donna. After my orientation, I actually am very interested and intrigued by this new experience. I have met her once, she's awesome. She commented on my purse, so she's good in my book already! I talked to her earlier today and she sounds excited for me to move in and has a pretty intense social calender awaiting my arrival. (More on Sr. Donna in the near future.)

As I wrap this little post up for the day, I will continue enjoying my last beautiful day in good ol' Kearney, Mo sittin under a tree with a root beer float (courtesy of my nephew Creason). Pray I don't get lost on my way up there (even though it sounds like an easy route, lets be honest, I'm kind of a blond sometimes). I'll keep ya posted !!!