This past week something cool happened at the Dream Center – something that made me think about impact. You see, my role at the Dream Center is tailored to my introverted personality. I write, I research, I create systems, I interact with people when I need to and when I want to – enough to find my “why” and be excited about where I work and what we do. With such a behind-the-scenes role, I often forget that my role carries a great opportunity for impact, introverted as it may be. Yes, I have relationships with some of our after-school kids. Yes, I have a good rapport with many of our adults. However, I seemingly con myself into thinking that these relationships are without influence and only serve as a smiling face greeting them each week.
This past week, I learned to think about these relationships in a way that better serves our organization. One of our fourth graders was having an “off” day. She was quiet, not as smiley as usual, and seemed to have something on her mind. Not wanting to pry, Jody asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “A writer,” she said. My ears perked up. “Well you know, Miss Kensie likes to write. She even writes a blog for the Dream Center.” Asa looked at me for confirmation. Nodding and smiling, I told her it was true. “Maybe someday you could help Miss Kensie write the blog. Would you like that?” Asa, eyes bright and excited, looked back and forth between me and Jody, quiet, yet motivated. “Yeah, maybe,” she said, trying not to act too excited.
The next day during after-school program, I gave her a notebook. I told her to think about what she wanted to write about, who she wanted to interview, and what she wanted to ask. She began taking notes that night, practicing her interview skills on her friend Demarius, a fellow DC kid. The next day, I pulled her out of after-school programming to help me write. We spent the day working on her story, typing up her notes, and including some of her favorite impactful stories. We talked about what impactful means, why stories are impactful, and how stories can change you. I got to talk with her about how stories have power, even hers. We talked about the big question: What is your story? We talked about the writing process and how starting is the hardest part. It was an afternoon that reminded me of the great purpose each person involved at the Dream Center has with our kids: to give them opportunities and experiences. In doing so, you remind them that they have purpose, they matter, and they are not limited to what the world tells them they can do and accomplish. When you show a child all of the options they have to be great, encourage them that they have a choice and a voice, they just might believe you. Each of us are shaped by experience and opportunity, and DC kids are no exception. Below, you will find Asa’s first blog post. My hope is that in reading it, each of you will be reminded of the great amount of impact you carry.
Hi, my name is Asa! I’m 9 years old and I been going to the dream center for 6 months. I interviewed my mom because she likes the dream center and she talks about it and I know that she will write a lot of stuff that will be good for the dream center blog. My mom is friendly, kind, helpful, careful, sweet, and strong, and she likes being herself. She will share her feelings with you. She loves the dream center. I am proud of my mom because she will get people out of her life if her kids don’t like them or if people close to us don’t like them. I am also proud of my mom because she is drug free. She does a lot of things for her family. How I know my mom loves me is because one time she took us to the mall to get new shoes and an outfit. Another time is my brother was grounded and she still let my other fam come over.
My mom likes the dream center because it helps you with your GED class. We go there after school. My mom wants to help out there, and if you need to have a talk about something you can come here and talk. We play and eat snack. Your kids can come here if you have work or just for fun. It’s a drug free place, it keeps you off drugs. You can come here to calm down, there are good staff, so if you don’t want to talk to one you can talk to another. There’s lots of new teachers coming in and out, they will send you down for check out: you sign a book and go or if you want to go in the back room and talk about your day or how your kids did there’s that. They have dinners on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:00. After dinner, you can go shop and get some clothes or some food. This is what my friend Damarius said about the dream center: “I like the staff, mostly miss Jody, and we have 3-2 room, k-1 room, and 4-5, 6-7.”
So that’s the dream center. I did all of this last night, it takes time to right down stuff for online, but that’s my story about the dream center.