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Success Stories

Kenny's Story

Earlier this summer, CHI guest Kenny Simmons shared happy news with us: He got the job he'd applied for and is now gainfully employed as a teacher's assistant at a local grade school. We couldn't be more pleased and want to share Kenny's story with you!

Kenny has been attending CHI's weekly tutoring sessions to hone his computer skills. Thanks to our volunteer tutors and counselors, Kenny got the support he needed to re-enter the workforce. As far as getting the job, that was all Kenny's doing! He recently wrote about his life experience:

"This past July I celebrated my 43rd birthday, and that has a lot of meaning to me, because if wasn't for the grace of God, I wouldn't have ever made it to this point. I was born premature, with perforated intestines and respiratory problems, and was hospitalized almost a year. But I made it, thanks to the prayers of my aunts and grandparents. They have nurtured me, brought me up in good churches, and helped me with my growth. I worked in churches in helping kids and providing the sort of guidance that my family and counselors have given to me.

"The staff and social workers at The Chicago Help Initiative have been one of the important links in my growth process. Their referral helped me land a teacher's assistant job, which I've held before. It was great to get back into that environment of molding and shaping young people's lives. Honestly, it is a lot more challenging today than it was in my younger days, because of technology.

"A month ago during teacher and staff orientation, while we were discussing racism, which was the theme of the orientation that day, a Caucasian teacher sitting next to me asked me a question. Could she answer questions her African American students have about racism, although she's personally unable to relate?

"I told her to include herself by saying, job applications, contracts, leases, car titles, baseball, hockey, football, and basketball contracts are all on white paper, but it means nothing nor can it be finalized into a done deal without the black ink of a pen. The white paper needs the ink, just as the ink needs the white paper. Black people need white people and white people need black people, and we all need God in order to live in a civilized world.

"What makes a great teacher is not being a great talker but a great listener. Having or knowing all of the answers is not an requirement or a prerequisite in becoming a great listener."