Scenario One: Marquez Taylor
Marquez Taylor is an outgoing, fun-loving ten-year-old in 4th grade at Prairie Elementary School in Urbana. He lives in the southeast Urbana area, but travels by bus to Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club after school each day. Marquez is the only child of a single mother who is on disability. She receives LINK subsidy for food, but has to supplement her meager income with trips to the local food pantries and clothing giveaways. In spite of his family’s poverty-level income, Marquez does well in school academics and learns quickly. He is talented muscially and participates in his church’s worship team. One of the members in his church is teaching him to play the drums.
When Marquez arrives at DMBGC each afternoon, he is excited and full of energy. An extrovert, he has many friends among the staff and other students. Because of his many interests, though, he tends to get bored easily and seeks attention. If there is any action happening, Marquez is sure to be in the middle of it. The staff realize that Marquez has great potential of becoming a future leader.
Arriving at DMBGC, Marquez runs upstairs to the newly furnished Learning Center to grab one of the cubbies to read his AR book for school. The bright, colorful walls and spacious area of the Learning Center make this room his favorite place. After homework time is over, the staff member (an intern student from the University of Illinois) meets with Marquez, two other club members and Mr. Howard. Mr. Howard is a senior volunteer at DMBGC, who was jailed in the 1960’s for entering a restaurant as a black man and sitting in the “whites-only” section. As they sit together at one of the collaboration tables, Mr. Howard tells his story to the children.
For a special Martin Luther King event in the community, Marquez and his clubmates decide to reenact Mr. Howard’s story through video. They will write the scenes with the help of Mr. Howard and then videotape each scene, using other members of DMBGC as the actors. The finished product will be published as a YouTube video.
At the end of the afternoon, Marquez does not want to go home. He is excited about the new project, and eager to begin working. He can hardly wait until tomorrow, when he returns to DMBGC.
Scenario Two: Deneisha Hill
Deneisha Hill is a shy 12-year-old fifth-grader at Garden Hills Elementary in Champaign. She just recently moved into the community to live with a new family. As an older child in the Illinois foster care system, Deneisha has been moved around quite a bit, living in five different foster homes during the last six years. Because of her background trauma and instability, Deneisha is wary of new situations and new people. She has also fallen behind academically. Because she has moved frequently, she has suffered by not being able to learn basic math and reading skills consistently.
As Deneisha arrives at DMBGC after school, she meets Rachel, a new volunteer from Parkland College. Rachel introduces Deneisha to other club members, takes her on a tour of the facilities and explains the schedule and daily activities of the club. Although Deneisha is quiet, she observes everything. Rachel takes Deneisha to the Learning Center room, so that they can work on Deneisha’s homework together. As Deneisha shows Rachel her math homework, Rachel realizes that Deneisha will need more practice and help on basic math facts. Rachel turns on the computer, opens up the folder with links for math, and chooses http://www.playkidsgames.com/games/mathfact/mathFact.htm. Deneisha starts playing the game to gain practice with her math facts.
To help Deneisha feel included as a member of the DMBGC, Rachel takes a picture of Deneisha and loads it onto the tree picture collage on the wall of the Learning Center. Deneisha stands at the wall for a few minutes, looking at all of the pictures of the other club members. Marquez introduces himself to Deneisha and asks if she would like to help with their video project. She agrees to act out a small part in the story that they are videotaping for the Martin Luther King, Jr. program.
As Deneisha’s new foster parents pick her up at the end of the day, she is relieved to know that she has found a place of acceptance that just may also be fun!
Scenario Three: Tamika Taylor; Jim and Joyce McMillan
Tamika Taylor is Marquez’s mother, a single mom on disability. She manages to live on a poverty-level income by frequenting the local food pantries and supplementing her income with occasional part-time work.. Because of her disability she cannot hold a full-time job, but she is able to work seasonal part-time jobs.
Jim and Joyce McMillan are Deneisha’s foster parents. Jim has a full-time job, while Joyce stays home with their three adopted children and their three foster children.
January through April is tax season. Both Tamika Taylor, as well as Jim and Joyce McMillan, need help with their taxes. Tamika does not have access to a computer at home and is not able to file electronically. Because of her disability she needs help in ensuring her taxes are done properly. Jim and Joyce McMillan have several twists in filing their taxes. Because they have adopted children in the last year, they can claim adoption credit on their taxes. They need additional help and advice in getting the refund that is due to them.
Early in February Tamika Taylor and the McMillans attend the tax help seminar in the Learning Center at the DMBGC. The arrangment of computers and tables in the Learning Center provides a good, collaborative environment for both Tamika and the McMillans to meet with the tax consultant and receive help and advice.
The Learning Center not only provides a supportive environment for the children attending DMBGC, but it also is a collaboration space for meeting the needs of the adults in the community.