Happy New Year! We hope that 2022 continues to provide wonderful blessings and opportunities for you, our students, families, and community! Let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to read this e-newsletter. It is our intention to share more about the work that we are doing, the services we are providing, and provide you with a closer look at some of our students, alumni, volunteers, staff, and supporters! The GRAD Motto is that "Graduation Really Achieves Dreams" and we recognize that it is our entire team that makes the work happen!
For a little over 19 years, Project GRAD Akron has been supporting students in the Akron Public Schools as well as our students who are attaining post-secondary success at various colleges and universities throughout the country! It is hard to believe that I have been serving as the Executive Director for over 15 years! I will say that each year brings unique challenges and opportunities; however, I will admit that these past two years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues, have been extremely taxing on so many people and at so many different levels. As I reflect over the last year, the one word that I keep thinking about is "thankful." We have so many blessings to be thankful for and I hope you know how much we appreciate everyone who helps us fulfill our mission of serving young people and providing them with great opportunities!
In each edition of our newsletter, you will see different examples of why we are "thankful" at Project GRAD Akron and how you are assisting us as we make positive and impactful differences in the lives of the people we serve!
I am thankful that I have been placed in a position to work with so many committed and dedicated staff, board, team members, and volunteers! I can genuinely say that the PGA staff members "love" their jobs. They are dedicated professionals, who are passionate about their work and are always willing to look for opportunities to support our students and families. If they see a need, they do "whatever it takes" to address it, including from their personal resources. The students know that they care and set high expectations for them to achieve success! For this, I am thankful to work with such a small, but mighty, group of individuals!
In December, PGA staff members participated in person or virtually for a holiday get-together. Our theme was "Joy and Peace." To make certain that we protected each other, we were socially-distanced, wore masks, and followed COVID-19 precautions. We went the extra mile of having our delicious meals delivered in individual boxes as we sat at separate tables. We had a wonderful time. During the gathering, we were asked to write and share with the group at least one example of what brought you "Joy" at Project GRAD Akron. It was uplifting to hear all of the stories about the joy staff members receive while doing the work of supporting students and the particular joy when the students understood or "got" it! The smiles on our staff members' faces said it all!
I ask each of you to take the time to think about things that bring you "Joy" and how you can use it to support young people. As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, consider bringing additional joy in your life and in the life of a student by becoming a GRAD Mentor or a volunteer with Project GRAD Akron! If you are looking for other ways to support, please visit the GRAD Website or consider making a tax-deductible donation (Donate Here
) to support our programs and/or scholarship fund.
Thank you for your support. Have a blessed, safe, and Happy New Year!
Jacqueline "Jackie" A. Silas-Butler, Esq.