According to Jubilee Park And Community Center President/CEO Ben Leal,
“Have you ever heard the term ‘messy middle?’ It’s that time when you’re going through a transition, or working on a long project, or navigating a new process where the novelty has worn off but the finish line isn’t yet in sight. Not glamorous, easy to get distracted, and hard to keep momentum.
“It’s easy to celebrate the kindergartener learning to read, the toddlers on their stroller ride around Jubilee’s campus, our workforce graduation participants, or the sweet senior citizens whom we serve year-round, but one of the groups I’m most proud of at Jubilee is our middle-school kids. They’re working hard during a tough time in life to navigate the “messy middle.”
“My wish this holiday season is that our middle-grade kids get the support they need to stay on track and make good choices about the kind of adult they want to become.
“Our middle-school students are dropped off at home by the school bus and they choose to walk to Jubilee to work on homework, learn leadership skills, participate in group counseling sessions, and work toward their goals. Middle school is challenging, and they come from many different public schools—local schools, charter schools, and magnet schools. Every afternoon, they come in, grab a snack, start on their homework, and then spend some time outside before they dive into a variety of enrichment activities. Sometimes they’re volunteering, sometimes they’re researching colleges, sometimes they’re working on self-expression, and other times they’re talking through tough topics at school or at home as a group.
“These kids have big dreams, a lot of talent, and parents who want the best for them. They aren’t little, but they aren’t grown, and it can be hard for them to find a place. We strive to be that place at Jubilee, and to make sure no one is overlooked.
“You can help our middle-school students succeed by showing them the path through the messy middle. There are lots of ways to make a difference: financial support of the program ($50 a week or $2,500 supports one student!), new art or sports supplies, or volunteering as a career speaker or homework helper are just some ideas to get started.
“I’m mentoring a child right now, and I can tell you it is a bright spot in my life. You personally can help light the way for a middle-school student at Jubilee in so many ways, and I hope you will!”
* Photo provided by Jubilee Park and Community Center