Hello SSP Youth Leaders,

We are very excited to work with all of you this summer at Greater Grand Crossing.  As you all may already know, we will be based in Gary Comer Youth Center and do service both within the center and with surrounding organizations that serve the Greater Grand Crossing community. We hope that these upcoming weeks can allow us to get to know you better and we hope that this opportunity at SSP allows you to use your wonderful talents and skills in service of the community we will be working in. We wanted to  also take some time to introduce ourselves.

My name is Erik Almazan and I am a rising fourth year at The University of Chicago. I am a biological sciences major and premedical student interested in community health and health disparities. The beginning of SSP and first days at to Gary Comer Youth Center has been full of surprises. I am overjoyed at all the resources the center has for its students and community members, as well as by the enthusiasm of the staff here. All of this has made me very optimistic about our partnership for the summer and all the potential service projects we will be able to use to engage the community. I am looking forward to meeting with all of you and excited about the work we will do over the course of the following weeks in Greater Grand Crossing.

My name is Julia Baird and I am a rising second year at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. In the future, I hope to pursue a medical career that is centered in adolescent and community health, focusing on the social determinants of health. I am thrilled to be participating in the Summer Service Partnership and getting the opportunity to apply the concepts I have learned in the classroom to the real world. During the first week of SSP, I have enjoyed meeting my fellow mentors and learning more about the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood and our host site, the Gary Comer Youth Center. As someone interested in adolescent health, one of my favorite aspects of exploring the neighborhood so far was attending the final “Town Hall Meeting” put on by high school students, who attend Gary Comer College Prep. The show was full of spirit and energy and invigorated me to become more involved with this community.

My name is Shanta Harrington and I am a rising 2nd year student in SSA. As a social work student I am always thinking of the ways in which who I am as a person can either harm or help the people and communities I aim to serve. One of the first things I remind myself of is that as a social worker born and raised in Greater Grand Crossing I can still be oppressive to students and families of Greater Grand Crossing. Since I am from the area, I am not new to the Gary Comer Youth Center but I definitely feel my recent time here has been more of a rich experience. Just in these first 2 days I feel like we have already done some strong networking and powerful relationship building. This center truly cares about the students and families they serve and are so responsive to our needs and requests. Staff have been so quick to help and provide resources for us which I truly believe will help to maximize the work our high school students will be able to accomplish. I am excited to work along side dedicated staff members and a neighborhood of talented youth. I am excited to connect more deeply with my neighborhood and our mentees and also so excited about the amazing service we will do this summer!
We hope to see you soon and that you are as thrilled as we are about this service opportunity.
                                                                                                                                  Best Wishes,
                                                                                                                                     Erik, Shanta, and Julia