Welcome back to the third and final installment of our Better Together series! This program is truly representative of the remarkable change United Way Lake County is working towards within our own community. Ismael Calderón, Success By 6 AmeriCorps VISTA, spent a great deal of time working with Master Teacher, Sharon Lichtenstein, families and children involved in the Better Together Program.
He says of his experience, “Being able to be in the office managing and in the classroom implementing the learning activities, and building that sense of community we dreamed of makes me feel [like] a better, new citizen for this country.”
The community that enrolls in the Better Together Program comes from a diverse background. Working with this group of people was special for Ismael because he has had the opportunity to meet many people over the course of his life, traveling the world and learning what the reality is like in different areas around the globe. In North Chicago, he was impacted by the way in which these families handle the day to day challenges they face. The parents and caretakers, despite any challenges they may have personally, always put their children and their education first. “Their kindness and smiles will always be my best memory and reward,” Ismael said.
He continued, “I remember when Avelina, Isabella’s mother, came up to our program. Isabella was always throwing tantrums and not sharing things with other children or just not complying. [Avelina] had the confidence to talk to us about finding a solution to Isabella’s behavior. We have her some instructions on how to cope with the problem and step by step she started controlling the situation by herself.”
“It is important to emphasize that our objectives are to provide a safe place for each of them to grow and to be comfortable in the company of their parents as they transition to kindergarten, a place where we can live Better Together.”
Read the previous Better Together posts: Building a Community for North Chicago Mothers and Building a Safe Learning Environment for North Chicago Families.