What better measure of a successful program than when a person transforms her own life and gives back to help a child? Lonetta, who is completing her third year in Hope and a Home’s transitional housing program in Columbia Heights, is just such an amazing woman.
Lonetta is a cheerleading and dance teacher. When she found out that there was no afterschool cheer program at her child’s school, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, she decided to take action. With help from Hope and a Home program staff, Lonetta created a proposal, auditioned, and won approval for her program.
During December’s intersession program, Lonetta was asked to work with one of the school’s toughest students, “Michael,” in her hip-hop dance class. Michael had serious behavior issues, was the school bully, and had a history of repeated suspensions. Lonetta embraced “Michael,” finding out what he was good at, engaging him in her program, and encouraging his pride in positive participation.
And, Lonetta created a miracle for Michael. He was one of only two boys in the class, and both boys had been suspended for fighting with each other. Lonetta found a way through hip-hop to help the boys connect and cooperate, and from there the boys bonded and began working together as a team. She challenged Michael in positive ways to be his best, just as Hope and a Home staff had challenged her. MIchael came out of his shell. Word spread around the school that Michael was thriving under Loretta’s guidance. During the final performance, the entire school turned out to watch Michael perform. Michael’s parents were in tears, seeing the changes in their son. This is a huge step forward for Michael as he begins to make positive strides forward.
With help from Fair Chance, Hope and a Home will grow so that it can help more people like Lonetta, who can then reach out to help more students like Michael. What goes around, comes around.