“The heart, soul, and love here… it’s just incredible,” said Mary Ellen Yonkee, a long-time volunteer, as she stepped back to take in the festivities of Give Me A Chance’s 2017 End-of-The-Year ceremony. Dozens of local families packed into the building on Grant Ave., Saturday, May 20th, to celebrate the many accomplishments of the women and children who participated in the various programs at Give Me a Chance.
“This is a wonderful program,” added Father Joseph, Associate Pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, who came to support the ceremony and offer the opening prayer. “It not only gives people hope and a community, it also affirms their dignity.”
A strong sense of pride and self-confidence filled the room as the ceremony began by recognizing the children. From recorder solos, to group dances, and awards for excellence in reading and math, the children were applauded for their achievements.
“For the children,” said Director Sister Arthur, “this is a culmination; it helps them see and appreciate all their hard work.”
In turn, the women were recognized for their achievements within the different programs, which included sewing and alterations, quilting, music, art, and ESL (English as a second language). To show off their seamstress skills, the women and a few of their teen daughters put on a fashion show. Many of the designs were technical and advanced, resulting in outfits appropriate for retail merchandising. Those students who complete all levels of the sewing classes, having gained professional level skills, are eligible to work with DeMarillac Formal Attire Store as alterations specialists. They also have the opportunity to help with work contracted out to Give Me A Chance by other businesses for sewing and/or alteration needs.
Then came musical performances and the art displays. Sister Lucia, the director of the Arts for Spirituality Program, shared how her classes are so much more than simply performing. “It’s a way to share life stories, to reflect on one’s blessings, and to talk to God,” she told the audience. With this perspective, Sister Lucia’s classes are not only a place to cultivate creativity, they are a sanctuary for personal reflection. Consequently, the beauty in the artwork was amplified by the unique spirituality each artist infused into their piece.
As everyone moved toward the long tables filled with delicious looking pot-luck dishes, it was clear that Give Me A Chance is not only a place of peace and empowerment for the women and children, but for everyone. From the students, to their parents and teachers, and the volunteers and staff, the sense of community was overwhelming.
“We can do nothing without the incredible commitment of our volunteers,” said Sister Arthur, “and we are so appreciative of the generous time and efforts they continue to give!”
The “heart, soul, and love,” was clearly present around the room. Though the mission of empowering low-income women and children in Ogden continues to press forward, May 20th afforded everyone involved the opportunity to pause, reflect, and rejoice for all the progress made, and successes achieved, during the 2016-2017 year.