All children have the potential to succeed in life and contribute to society, but not all children get the things they need to thrive. There are six elements necessary to pave a pathway out of poverty: education, employment, health, housing, nutrition and basic necessities. My Joyful Heart provides the necessities to make the path smoother.
One out of three children in Chicago are living in poverty, and half of those children are in "deep poverty," which is half or less of the federal poverty line. Living in these conditions is more than an economic issue; it affects children holistically - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Deficiencies in basic necessities and daily encouragement causes a lack of self esteem, a dissolving of trust, a decline in academics and a loss of hope for a brighter future.
My Joyful Heart is an ambassador for an often overlooked group -- children in need right in our own backyard.
My Joyful Heart's influence on children's lives may well have a positive effect on their school attendance and performance. We believe if a child’s basic needs are met, he or she will be more attentive at school and will also be more focused in achieving both academically and socially. Research has shown that children who are made to feel special and who are given attention will perform to those expectations.5
Parents have reported that being involved with MJH has helped their children's health and confidence. Teachers have cited My Joyful Heart as helping improve academic performance and create better attitudes in the classroom. The children in the program have let us know that they are more encouraged, experience more joy and have more hope for a better tomorrow.
My Joyful Heart provides attention and expectations that encourage the children in our program to achieve. Please read some of the stories below to see actual examples from children enrolled in the program. All names of the children have been changed to protect their privacy.
Richard was enrolled in our program when he was in 7th grade. He had a bad attitude, was disrespectful and wasn’t showing up for school. He lived with Mom and siblings in a shelter -- he was homeless.
We gave him new clothes, hygiene items, school supplies and some fun stuff. We received notice from his social workers at school that Richard had not only graduated from 8th grade, but that he had made a complete turn around. He received two awards upon graduation: one for most improved student and one for most improved player on the basketball team.
An update from Richard in 2012:
Richard completed our program after graduating from 8th grade, but we kept in touch throughout his high school years through his brother who was enrolled in our program. We are so proud and happy to report that Richard has graduated from high school and is now working with an international company in the area. Richard, it is because of children like you that inspire us all at My Joyful Heart to keep doing what we are doing. We hold all of the children in our own joyful hearts everyday.
Ailesha is seven years old and wrote to My Joyful Heart, “Now I feel very good every morning going to class because I have what I need to help me with my lesson. I can’t wait to get started. I would like to thank you because I feel good, because I have what my classmates have, a backpack. Thank you for being so kind to me. God bless you and me for sending you!”
12-year old Kadesha lives with her single mom and three younger siblings. “I just want to tell you how you all changed my life and how you made it better for me. Ever since I was enrolled in your program I have gotten the things I needed and more….like love, kindness and, most of all, your generosity. You made me feel good about myself. You help me grow as a person. I’m more confident and outgoing and it is all because of you, My Joyful Heart. May God bless you always.”
From One of Our Schools
I wanted to take a moment to tell you how impressed I was to find out what your organization does for the children of our community. I am amazed and touched. I also know that the children you provide for are very grateful.
Thank you for making a difference in their lives!
As you know, I have a strong support for My Joyful Heart and all that it does for the students that attend [the school where I am principal]. The look on our student's faces when they receive their wonderful gifts is priceless. Your organization really helps to change the lives of our students. We are blessed to have you working with our children. Because of the great work that My Joyful Heart does, I would like to personally donate [...] to the organization. Again, thank you and may God continue to bless My Joyful Heart.
From A Parent of A Child Enrolled in Our Program
During a point when my kids' shoes were falling apart, clothes were damaged and we were low on the simple things like soap, toothpaste, etc., you came and blessed them with big bags filled with what they needed. It brought me to a positive state of having faith and knowing help is out there. Knowing that even when times get hard there are angels out there willing to give our children a helping hand. You have helped us feel comfortable about our kids going to school with a warm coat, comfortable shoes and clean uniforms. We are humbled and appreciative and want to say thank you! Thank you!
I'm so thankful for all you do and have done for my children. You've made my family really thank God for bringing you into our lives. You have made my children smile. Keep doing the work of the Lord and I pray He continues to bless you with the heart to continue to give to others. I thank you for all of our smiles.
I am writing to thank you for all of the things that you have given my family. You will never know how much of a blessing that you have been to my family these past several years. I want to say that even if you never get another thank you, or God bless you for your ministry, I want you to know that you are being a blessing to not only my family but to all of the children at [my children's school] who participate in your program. You are not just being a blessing to the school but to our whole community.
From A Group of Volunteers
You are doing a wonderful work for the Lord! I pray that the Lord blesses you all. I pray that He will strengthen you daily. We pray for you guys in class and believe that God is doing amazing things through you.
His word is true and stands the test of time. Be encouraged!
From An Organization with Children Enrolled in Our Program
Words cannot express the heartfelt thanks for all you have done for our homeless babies. The [Gift Packages] were amazing, but the compassion, spirit and generosity that My Joyful Heart put into them speaks volumes of who you are. You will never know how grateful we are, and how you made a difference in the lives of our families. Your kindness has added hope and strength to our moms.
5 Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson, Pygmalion in the Classroom, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968