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July 18, 2014

           There are many aspects to reflect upon as we reach the middle of the Summer Service Partnership Program. The project itself is making great headway. We have chosen to create a Health Fair at the Greater Grand Crossing Public Library (1000 E. 73rd St.) on August 2nd from 1-4pm. We have reached out to many community members who have elected to participate in the event, including Life Organics, Bonfire Grill, the Gary Comer Youth Center, University of Chicago Emergency Medical Services, Louis’ Groceries, and Access Health Clinic. We are also planning on providing healthy snacks as well as demonstrations, and the library will be having an end of summer celebration as well, providing activities and games. We were very lucky to find a partner in the Greater Grand Crossing Public Library so quickly on a date that worked with our schedule, and could not be more thankful to Ms. Kendra for providing us with a space and being so accommodating to our work.

             The problems we face at this point include staying connected to the businesses that have already expressed interest. We need to make sure to keep our event on their radar so that they do not lose track of the date and forget about their agreements. Planning a large event is a lot of work, and we are seeing the difficulties that come with creating a project with a limited amount of time and money, but we continue to push through, and the enthusiasm for the project has not waned, which is crucial for our success.

            As an individual team, I am tremendously grateful for both the young people and mentors I have been given the opportunity to work with. In both cases, it is a very different set of youth, and a very different set of co-mentors that I am used to, but I am learning a lot from the new experiences I am having and the new personalities I am being exposed to, so I continue to grow as a mentor and as a human being with each day I am able to share with my coworkers. This does not mean that we do not face challenges. Our patience and success is tried consistently as we struggle with team dynamics and team moral, but we continue to push through, grow closer, and develop together. I am excited to continue working with my coworkers and cannot wait until we are able to share the fruits of our labor.

            Some of the most exciting experiences that I have had have been the conversations with community members, learning about the strengths and weaknesses of Greater Grand Crossing, and learning about different opinions on what makes a strong community. People such as Sam Binion, and Ms. Zanetta at Life Organics have provided deep and fascinating insight into what creates challenges within a community and how those challenges can be met and opposed. I enjoy these conversations with people who know their neighborhood so well, and make sure to incorporate their wisdom into everything we do, so that we make sure that we are meeting the communities needs and not just what we think the communities needs are.

            The summer thus far has not been perfect, but no great learning experiences are, which is why I look forward to the struggles that we will continue to face and overcome, and the knowledge that will be gained because of them.