When I was in third grade, my dad died from diabetes. My mom had a very hard time finding work to pay for me and my sister. Over the next three years, I lived in many different places. Most of the time, my sister and I slept on blankets or old towels instead of a bed. We lived in some very scary neighborhoods with lots of violence, gangs and drugs.
When I was in fifth grade, my mom married my step-dad, and things started to get better. But last summer my step-dad and my mom lost their jobs, and I felt like everything was happening all over again. During that summer, I did nothing and had nowhere to go. I felt sad and alone all the time.
This year, the staff at my school told me about Summer of Dreams. Because of this program, I had a safe and fun place to go this summer. The staff made sure I ate breakfast and lunch every day, and the program also helped me get food and clothes for my family. I took part in reading, math and science classes. I also took cooking classes, did arts and crafts, and made a lot of new friends. My favorite part is that I got to go to Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld for the first time ever.
"Summer of Dreams" has changed my life. I now walk around smiling all day. Things are still hard at home. But I know that no matter what, the staff at the program will always be there for me. It is a place with people who care if I learn, care if I am safe and care if I succeed.
– Gladylis M., seventh-grade student at Jackson Middle School