Strong, trusting relationships are the cornerstone of our work.
Six-year-old Raquel* is very social and smart, but she is behind in school academically. She struggles with her behavior and emotions both at school and at home. According to her Aunt, she was “like another person” when she got to spend one-on-one time with her Friend (professional mentor) Chanel.
When Raquel was 18 months old, mom dropped Raquel and her three siblings off with their Aunt and never returned. Aunt is raising Raquel, her siblings and her own four children. In order to motivate the children to behave well, Aunt believed that Raquel and her siblings must know the truth about their mom and that she brought them into her home. Raquel talked about her mom often and told Chanel that she knows she will come back soon.
While Aunt willingly signed Raquel up for our program, she was very reserved and reluctant to build a relationship with Chanel. During the first few weeks of the quarantine, Aunt did not return Chanel’s phone calls or text messages. However, over the course of the last two months, during which time Chanel made regular deliveries to the family (food, gift cards, school supplies, books, etc.), Aunt slowly opened up. She was amazed at Chanel’s level of commitment to her and her family.
Two weeks ago, for the first time ever, Aunt initiated a call to Chanel asking for help. Aunt told Chanel that Raquel tried to burn their apartment down. She said that things have been crazy at home with the kids out of school, and physical discipline wasn’t working. She asked Chanel to come to their home and talk with Raquel.
Chanel put on her mask and gloves and headed over. Raquel was elated to see Chanel, and they talked through how she was feeling and how she can make better choices with her behavior. Chanel and Aunt talked through other strategies that Aunt can try when Raquel acts out. Aunt also agreed to have Chanel connect Raquel with a therapist.
Two days after she was at their house, Aunt called Chanel again to tell her that she had tested positive for COVID-19. Chanel helped Aunt prepare for the oncoming illness, securing food, medicine and childcare. Fortunately, Chanel tested negative for the virus after the exposure, and Aunt is in the hospital, but on the path to recovery.
There are no quick fixes. Things didn't magically become easy and stress-free in their home. But both Raquel and Aunt know that Chanel is there for them - no matter what. Chanel will provide Raquel and her family the resources and emotional support necessary to help Raquel thrive. We couldn't do this without you. Thank you for supporting Friends of the Children–Chicago!
Taal Hasak-Lowy, Executive Director
*Youth's name changed to protect their identity