“I want to see you be as successful as you can be.” – Jenaha, Real Alternatives
Program Coordinator and Case Manager
As we transition from the warmer days of summer into the fall season of gratitude, we’ve been reflecting here at Side by Side about how grateful we are for our staff who make such a difference in the lives of the children and young adults they work with.

We’d like to introduce you to two of our clients and their teacher/mentors. The impact your support has made in the lives of these youth – and all the young people we serve – is truly immeasurable. For that, we are deeply grateful.
“Irene Hunt gave me a chance; a second chance instead of just giving up on me.”
– Alu, Irene M. Hunt student

Fourth grader Alu hated school. He felt different from other kids. They called him ugly, so he punched them or threw things at them and destroyed the classroom. Alu knew his behavior was troublesome, but he told us he just didn’t know how to handle his feelings. “ I used to bang my head, pull my ear. I just wanted to make myself feel like less of a monster or beast, and more like a person.”

Alu has completely transformed as a student at Irene M. Hunt Middle School. He smiles, enjoys his days, and thrives in the classroom. But the best part is that he now has the self confidence he was lacking. “I used to be a Delorean, go 80 miles per hour. And now I’m this new Lamborghini that’s popular at school. I always think, who is that Alu?”

Chloe, Alu’s teacher, told us, So many of the kids come to our school with this feeling like they are unworthy. When Alu leaves our school, his biggest challenge is going to be telling himself that he deserves a great life.”
It was stability. It was me being able to be an adult, me feeling like I could take care of my daughter, and actually become a smarter, sophisticated, independent, grown woman.”
      Kiera, Real Alternatives client

Keira never had anyone to show her how to take control of her life, and she says nobody ever asked her what she wanted. What does she want as a young, single mother? “I just want my own independence.”

When Kiera first came to Real Alternatives, she was about to turn 21. She was trying to find stable housing and a stable connection with someone who could help her build her new life with her young daughter, but she didn’t know where to start or what to do. Jenaha, Kiera’s Real Alternatives case manager, worked side by side with her to tackle one thing at a time.

“To have somebody that actually sees that you're trying and they’re like, okay, let me make a path for you…let me help you. It’s rare, it’s genuinely, honestly rare. And that's what Jenaha gave me.”

Jenaha commented, “Our young adults need compassion, empathy, someone that can walk them through the milestones that they weren't given. In the Real Alternatives program, our main focus is making sure that the youth feel cared for, their voices are heard.”

Every day since 1895, Side by Side has walked with young people as
they find their own positive path through programs like the
Irene M. Hunt School and Real Alternatives.
Thank you for being on that journey along with us.