Thank you, Promise Council, for providing our school with goodie bags for girls that included feminine hygiene products and a make up surprise. When they pick out a bag and I tell them that someone they have never met before collected these items for them, they are bit confused. Then we have a conversation about how someone in this world cares about them; immediately, the look of fear and horror that was overwhelming them when they first walked in turns into a smile.
Promise Council events can change a child’s life. One fifth grade boy thought he wouldn’t make it through high school, due to the violence around him. He had no plans to go to college or enter the workforce. While participating in the Promise Council’s Opening Doors Program, he was exposed to local campus life at Illinois State University, and the possibilities that exist for him after high school. He now refers to ISU as “his school”. He tells everyone who will listen: “That is where I am going after I graduate!
The flagship Promise Council at Pepper Ridge, started in 2009, has positively impacted the lives of over 500 fifth grade students since it began in 2010. An academic achievement analysis of 197 Pepper Ridge alumni who then went on to attend NCWHS showed:
I remember our graduate ceremony from the Opening Doors Program in fifth grade!We were all dressed up in a cap and gown.I felt like I was on top of the world.Before participating in the Opening Doors program, I knew that I was going to college, because my parents told me I was going to college.That ceremony made me want to go to college - for myself.That day I, as well as many other students, felt special.
I remember In fifth grade, I was asked to give a speech in front of the audience at our Promise Council’s Opening Doors program graduation. It was the first one I’d ever given, and I loved it! I now have a drive for public speaking.”
- Pepper Ridge Opening Doors Program Alumnus
I remember we learned about the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People in our Opening Doors Program. I’ve used them to become a hard working, more efficient student and to improve my education. Now, I’m always putting what’s most important first; like the big things in my life: my family, friends, etc. I don’t pay much attention to the small things that don’t matter that much. I put what’s necessary first, before anything else, and if I have time left over…then I can worry about the little things.
- NCWHS High School Graduate
I have put my babies on a bus to preschool, had our first days of Kindergarten, etc. and I have never shed a tear during these momentous events. Well, today was different. Today I sent my first baby to the Jr. High for band. She's not in Jr. High yet, but that is where band happens. We were all excited. None of us were nervous. I wasn't expecting tears from anyone; least of all, me. When we arrived, I could hear this happy hollering and as we got closer to the building, I realized what was going on. There were dozens of adults standing on either side of where we were walking cheering ALL the kids on; genuine love and laughter. It was an incredible experience. I am so grateful for the welcoming and love shown to us and to every single student that arrived at Bloomington Junior High School this morning. That kindness brought me to tears. I love our community and district 87 has been such a blessing to our family. Please share this post with any one that may have played a part in this fantastic morning. I thank them!
As a teacher, Jessica was pleased when her Promise Council raised funds to pay for tutoring for some of her underachieving students. She was very happy when she watched their scores move from near-failure to above average. But what really thrilled her was seeing how weekly attention from one caring adult could transform the life of a child. During the course of the six-week program, she watched one young girl go from being a chronic truancy problem to being a school leader. The child finished the program with flying colors, and hasn’t missed a day of school since. She continues to excel academically, and is a student crossing guard, using her new skills to help her peers find their way.
Our world flipped upside down when my husband, at age 34 suffered a stroke. He had to re-learn basic functions like walking, feeding and dressing himself. He couldn't work. With five children to raise, it wasn’t long before frustration and exhaustion led to hopelessness. Then Promise Council stepped in. They gave us gas cards to fill up our van so I could go to work. Our children received food, clothing, classroom supplies and after-school mentoring. The generosity helped us immensely. Life started to get better, and we started to breathe easier. Today, our family has made it their mission to give back to the Promise Council. We want to pay it forward to the Promise Council so it can continue lifting families up.
Every week, Promise Council helps Bloomington-Normal provide meals for children who might otherwise go hungry on the weekends. Hundreds of Friday
Food Bags are created and sent home with children when they leave school on Friday. The food comes from organizations like the Midwest Food Bank, and from local food drives hosted by businesses, service organizations and other caring adults like you in our community. Volunteers pick up the food and deliver it to schools or churches, where more volunteers pack it into backpacks and deliver them to classrooms. Children pick up the backpacks as they leave school on Friday, knowing they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
Peanut Butter is one of the nutritious ways we deliver protein to children in Friday Food Bags. Recently, a young recipient happened to witness a volunteer placing jars of peanut butter into backpacks. He asked her how he was supposed to eat that. “Well”, she said, “you can put it on celery, or eat it on bread or crackers.” The young man replied: “Oh. We don’t have any of that.” The volunteer paused briefly and asked him how he ate peanut butter. “With a spoon!” he shared happily. Lessons learned…Promise Council now buys crackers to accompany peanut butter.
Promise Council partners with the special education program at Field School to maintain a shoe bank of new and gently used shoes for any child in District 87 or Unit 5 who needs them. One young child, after seeing a Promise Shoes flier on the door at his school, asked how he might get a pair for himself, since his shoes were too tight and were pinching his feet. The family coordinator contacted the caring adult who supervises the shoe bank, and mother and child met her at Field. After picking out the pair he wanted, the youngster promptly put them on, said “Thank you!” and then handed his old shoes back to the volunteer to add to the shoe bank. Apparently this little angel already knew…one good turn deserves another!