On August 20, 2018 we officially opened the doors of the Star-C After School Program at Summerdale/Springview and the magic officially began! After a lot of hard work, a little bit of shopping, and a few conversations with Dr. Payne at Cleveland Avenue Elementary, we opened our doors and welcomed 16 eager participants into what we are sure to be an amazing year of learning, enrichment, and fun!
As the Program Director, I started the day by breathing a little bit of life into our temporary home and adding some much-needed pizzazz to our after-school program room in the back of the leasing office. I am a person that ABSOLUTELY LOVES color and a great quote, so I made sure to add a few good ones in vibrant colors to our walls for daily inspiration. I know that these wonderful young people that I have the privilege of working with face many challenges as they push to gain academic success and having the daily inspiration right in front of their faces will serve as a reminder to keep pushing forward when giving up seems like a viable option.
I wasn’t the only one excited about the first day either! We had the pleasure of being visited by our wonderful founder, Marjy, who came baring gifts in the form of arts and crafts supplies, our phenomenal Executive Director, Audrea, who also came baring gifts in the form of books, our security team, our Property Manager, and a few parents! Everyone was very encouraging and super excited that we had finally gotten started and wished us well as we got underway with priority one, which for us is homework! We sailed through homework and into celebrating our first day by taking fun first day pictures. It was truly an amazing time!
Now that I’ve shared all these fun first day updates with you, let me share how this was a first day that almost wasn’t. You see, I am a recovering perfectionist, and there was a huge part of me that thought we should delay the start of the program until we had everything exactly the way that we wanted it. As I mentioned earlier, the space we are currently occupying is our temporary space. It’s a small room in the back of our leasing office, and I knew that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to serve all our tiny residents, so I thought that maybe we shouldn’t do it. Then, we normally have at least two people that work for our programs on top of our volunteers. Well, at this time, I am the only employee and we haven’t gotten our volunteer strategy up and running yet, so I was going to be solo with all these tiny folks vying for my time and attention and that scared me. I didn’t know if I could do it, and instead of choosing to walk in courage and risking potential failure, I just said that we should wait until we had at least the Assistant Program Director in place.
While I was sitting in Starbucks trying to formulate my case for why we should wait, this quote came to mind. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Hearing it in my head made something flip in my heart. Instead of focusing on the reasons why we should wait, I begin thinking of the reasons why we should start and how I could use what I already had to make it happen! And when I tell you that magic happened, MAGIC HAPPENED!
It didn’t matter that the room was small, we could just start without tables and use chairs and clipboards to make the most out the space. It didn’t matter if we didn’t have an assistant director, I managed classrooms full of high school students by myself when I was a high school student, I could surely handle less than 20 elementary school students. It didn’t matter if we couldn’t make permanent changes to the space because it was a temporary space, I could use all of the posters and supplies that I had accumulated over the years to make my mark on the room. And this is exactly what I did!
I am so thankful that I didn’t let the initial fears get in the way of the magic that we’ve been able to make happen for these 16 students and their families thus far and I am excited about being able to expand that magic to more kids in our community in the days, weeks, and months to come!
So. when you’re working on community transformation the odds are you will NEVER have everything that you want and need when you’re getting started, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get started! Just remember to start where you are, by using what you have, to do what you can, and I assure you that even if it is not perfect, it can and will indeed be MAGICAL! Here’s to making it a great year!