It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by! As always, I have a lot to share…
Our dream of having our own home is finally becoming a reality
Since Project Promise’s inception we’ve been operating out of borrowed facilities, as our building in downtown Christiansted was not habitable.
In April our world was turned upside down when the Humanitarian Experience for Youth surprised us with an offer to provide $25,000 of funding plus seven weeks of volunteer labor to start rehabbing our building. The catch: We had five weeks to raise $50,000 and get the roof replaced, so that the building would be safe for the volunteers to be in.
The community response was so strong that between cash and in-kind donations over $86,000 was raised! This summer seven groups, each with 19 volunteers, got an incredible amount of work done, and the work has been ongoing since then. We anticipate being able to move into our building, which will also serve as a community center, just in time for the 2022- 2023 School Year.
This year we started the 5th year of the Caterpillar Project
In 2016 we kicked off our flagship Caterpillar Project with a promise to provide an intensive, holistic multi-year afterschool program to a group of fifth grade students. I’ve loved every aspect of this journey. This is real life, and regardless of what life has thrown at us, from the devastation of Hurricane Maria to the unimaginable disruption of a worldwide pandemic, we’ve persevered. This year most of our program was presented virtually.
I’m incredibly proud of the amazing growth that our first group of Caterpillars has experienced. This year our Career Exploration component transitioned from guest speaker presentations to hands on internships! We are so thrilled to see how Project Promise’s impact continues to expand.
Speaking of expansion, we are now recruiting our next group of Caterpillars. This summer we hosted “Caterpillar Camp with a Twist.” The “twist” was that we invited a group of prospective Caterpillars to participate, and our older kids served as the camp counselors. The selection process then continued in the fall, and we will officially be kicking things off with our next group of Caterpillars next month.
Our other programs went virtual as well
In February we presented a virtual version of our annual Havana Nights fundraiser that took place on the beaches of Cuba. Party-goers tuned in to Cuban music, took a salsa dancing lesson, had a chance to win a trip to Cuba (including a 4-night stay at an all-inclusive beach resort!) and more. We also honored three high school seniors who have overcome adversity to succeed academically. New for this year, our honorees were each awarded a $500 scholarship.
In March we then kicked off the new, virtual version of our popular Salt River Basin field trip. To make this happen we added video production to the Project Promise team’s list of accomplishments, as the entire virtual tour was produced in-house.
Other 2021 highlights include service and art projects
In January our kids, who had become Certified COVID-19 Youth Ambassadors, led a COVID-19 informational session and discussion for other youth. I’ll never forget the one girl who said, “Thank you for asking how I’m doing! No one had asked me that in a while.” It was quite profound, and another reminder of the impact that Project Promise is having.
This summer four of our Caterpillars participated in the St. Croix Mural Project, ‘All Ah’ We’. This was our first time getting together in a classroom in a year! The kids each created a part of the image, which is on display at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts from December 28th throughout January 29, 2022.
This year we continued our support of an orphanage in Tanzania. Thanks to the generosity of two donors, we were able to purchase $450 worth of toys! Participants chose everything from sports equipment and small cars and helicopters to jumping ropes, board games, books, art supplies, stuffed animals, dolls and more—over 250 toys in total, to date, the most toys that we’ve donated all at once.
We’re looking forward to continuing to expand our impact
Moving forward into 2022 our plans include expanding our Caterpillar Program to start with a new group of kids, moving into our own building and, hopefully, getting back to in-person programming.
Thank you for your past and continued support, and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!