Ysela is a parent to sixth grader, Mathew, who joined the Horizons program in the second grade, and she also has an older daughter, Yurasi who participated in the program and has graduated. Ysela’s story reveals the many layers of struggle that one family has gone through as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and how Horizons has been there to provide help, support and hope.
Ysela’s husband became depressed in the spring of 2020 and she had to stop working to support him emotionally, as well as help Mathew with his virtual schooling. This job loss caused financial and emotional strain on the family. Ysela exrepssed her gratitude that Horizons provided their family with a $325 ShopRite gift card at the start of the summer, which helped provide food during a challenging time. Mathew saw the stress of the pandemic on his parents and the way that Horizons was able to make it a little easier for them and he was inspired to give back as well. He checked in with his elderly neighbors to see if there was any way he could help them.
Ysela had been worried about Mathew’s lack of personal connections in a virtual environment. She was so grateful that Horizons was able to operate a virtual summer program, which provided Mathew with support and connections with his Horizons teachers and friends. Horizons also helped ensure that Mathew had a Chromebook to use over the summer and connected him with a tutor through Beyond Limits. Ysela said that “Horizons has given Mathew hope to be someone in life (for a brighter future).” She also felt that the Horizons distance-learning summer program helped him become more comfortable with technology and better prepared for the hybrid model of school he began this fall. Ysela is especially grateful because she has returned to work and his grandmother is the only caregiver at home and isn’t able to provide much support on that front.
Just three weeks ago, Ysela’s brother passed away due to COVID-19 related issues and, of course, this has hit the family hard. Mathew turned to Horizons as a source of hope in this dark time and decided to join the “Leaders on the Rise Institute,” offered by Horizons in partnership with Global Kids, that helps students to participate in social justice projects and become global leaders in topics such as racial injustice. Mathew said: “I want to join Leaders on the Rise so that maybe I can get to be somebody in life.” Ysela is so grateful to Horizons for all the program has done for her family and will continue to do. Horizons makes a long-term commitment to our families, and they need this support now more than ever, as they recover from the wake of COVID-19.
Mathew’s class during the five-week distance-learning program.
Mathew at our drive by graduation and moving up ceremony for our 5th grade students to mark the milestone of their graduation from the Junior Program to our Senior Program.