Great Lakes Credit Union and Little Lake County are proud to bring you “Kirby’s Kids: Little Hands, Big Hearts.” This program recognizes an extraordinary child each month and brings you their stories of determination, hope and goodwill.
Serving your community and being a good role model for others is hard work, and for some, even harder than you could ever imagine. For Eric, a recent eighth grade graduate from Abbott Middle School in Waukegan, the experience took just that–hard work. Things didn’t start to change for Eric until he took a different approach, put in a lot of hard work, and a put a renewed focus on what really matters. In a school district that has a high poverty rate, but a strong community feel, it is often difficult to put all of your energy toward academics, when many times, you might be wondering if you will have your basic needs met. Just last year, Eric struggled in many of his classes because of a relaxed attitude towards school work. He admits that social media was a distraction and that it sometimes took precedence over his studies. Things in his life were not headed for success, and he knew it.
He decided on his own that he wanted a change in his life, and took matters in his own hands. After years of struggling in school, he decided to apply for the Young Men of Vision program. The YMOV program is a mentoring organization that caters to socially and economically disadvantaged middle school males. This program helps to improve the students’ academic success, self esteem, leadership, and decision making, all while providing a “brotherhood” atmosphere. In order to apply, Eric had to fill out an application and write an essay about why he wanted to be a part of the group. When Eric was accepted into this program, he knew that it would be something that would help him develop skills for success and become a positive part of his community. When that happened, it was the beginning of his life starting to change dramatically. As part of the YMOV group, there were expectations put upon him that he had to uphold. He rose to the occasion, and began working on bettering himself. This is quite the task of self reflection and motivation for a very young man!
Eric began to take school more seriously, and was able to maintain above a “C” average, when in the past, he was struggling with failing grades. The program taught him responsibility and leadership skills. The brotherhood component of the organization has helped him as well because he benefited by the help that others in the group could offer him, but he was able to offer his talent and support to others as well. He has stepped up as a role model for children younger than him and loves the feeling that he can serve to inspire others. He helps serve the community now in many ways and has become an active part in it in a positive way.
In a particular moving moment for him, he and his group took a trip to the College of Lake County. During this visit, he was very inspired by the speaker. In his speech, the speaker told the boys to “always be the biggest person in the room.” That trip also stressed the importance of striving for, and wanting success. Eric credits that trip as his motivation to keep pushing on, even when times get hard.
In school, he soon became known as the student who asked challenging questions, was very articulate in all that he did, and even became the student that was asked to read the morning announcements every day. The change in Eric was evident, and he was on the path to success in high school.
As a young man that was once struggling to get through school, he now achieves good grades and works to make positive change in his community. Besides that, he acts as a role model for others, has plans to go to college one day, and dreams of becoming a chiropractor when he grows up. Eric also knows that no matter what, he will always strive for success. Most importantly, he understands what it feels like to struggle, and knows that he can help others who are going through the same thing turn their life around. He is a true inspiration to anyone that wants to better their life, even when things seem to be working against you.
Are you interested in helping other young men like Eric make it when odds are stacked against them? Check out Young Men of Vision to learn more about the organization, and click here to donate or volunteer. Help other boys, just like Eric, strive for success, become a role model in their community and most importantly, turn their life around for the better.
Each and every one of our Kirby’s Kids gets to meet Kirby the Kangaroo at their local Great Lakes Credit Union branch. Kirby met Eric at their local Waukegan branch and opened up a youth savings account in his name with a $50 starting balance, courtesy of Great Lakes Credit Union.
Do you know an inspirational, courageous or exceptional young person living in Lake County, (age 13 or younger) who is serving as a role model in his or her community? Help us recognize these big hearts! Nominate a child for the Kirby’s Kid program.
Follow this link to complete a nomination form. If your nominee is selected we will contact you and/or the child’s guardian for inclusion in the Kirby’s Kids program.
For more information about the Kirby’s Kids, read our program introduction.
Disclosure: Great Lakes Credit Union is the paid sponsor of the Kirby’s Kids program.