2016 was a great year for me personally. I enjoyed my grandson’s basketball games and my granddaughter’s creative art projects and incessant energy. We had a wonderful family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in July thanks to a very nice gift from a friend.
I will miss my mother this Christmas. For many years I have made the drive to see her in northwest Iowa during the holidays and it will seem odd not to make the trip this year. She died peacefully in her sleep in August at age 91. I miss her.
In February we will be awarded a Chicago Neighborhood Development Award for our FamilyPlex project. This is like winning an Emmy in community development and I couldn’t be more proud of our team. We had a big dream and with your help, God's miraculous blessings and lots of hard work, we now see this glistening facility filled with kids and adults who are growing, thriving and reaching for the stars. The FamilyPlex is a beacon of hope on the west side of Chicago and you are a big part of that.
This summer youth from Breakthrough’s film club partnered with the Chicago History Museum to document the history of our community by capturing the stories of local residents on film and audio. Their finished product will be available at the Chicago History Museum for generations to come. Some day they will take their own kids to the museum to see what they accomplished back in 2016!
After being open for just one year, we are already seeing dramatic results in our preschool. 90% of students became kindergarten ready. I loved attending the preschool graduation and watching the children and their parents flush with pride as the teachers described the unique characteristics of each child as they award the certificates. These children have a glorious future ahead of them.
We at Breakthrough have big plans for the future. We are beginning to provide permanent supportive housing for eleven families. This has been a dream of ours since I saw more than 100 people, most of them mothers with young children, sleeping on the floor of a meeting room in our local Department of Family Support Services office a couple of years ago. It broke my heart to see such desperate conditions for these families. No child should have to grow up in that environment.
We still have a lot of work to do to grow into the dream of maximizing the space we have been provided through the opening of the FamilyPlex and the reconfiguring of our Fresh Market Food Pantry and Women’s Center. We have so much potential to grow. We have empty preschool classrooms and families on a list waiting for us to raise the money to hire teachers. We have space to nearly double the number of children in our after school programs but again, we need to grow our revenue. We were able to get more people housed this year than ever, but our homeless service centers still have large waiting lists.
We want to do a better job of helping people find sustainable revenue through our employment program and business creation. Next year we will celebrate Breakthrough’s 25th anniversary. Look how far we’ve come from that little storefront in Andersonville! To God be the glory! As we prepare for our next 25 years, I hope you will work with us to do all you can to help us stretch through your financial giving and by bringing new sources of revenue our way. We know God has big plans for our future and I believe God plans to bless and prosper you as well. Together we are building something that will outlast us all and reap a harvest for many generations.
Have a wonderful Christmas and may God continue to use us all to bring peace and good will to the city of Chicago.
In Christs love,
P.S. Please pray with us for the family and friends of Ed Brown, a professional boxer who was shot and killed in front of his home last weekend. Ed was the second of our Breakthrough alumni who we lost to gun violence this fall. Please stand with us in prayer for Ed's family and the future of Breakthrough as we seek to prevent this tragic loss of life.