Dear Future, Here I Come!
Please consider making a year-end gift, or a monthly recurring gift,
so that more children, like Dylan, can begin preparing for a positive future!
Dylan and his mom, Christine, believe that the Middle Earth programs you support have opened up so many possibilities for Dylan and his future - please take a moment to listen to their story in the video on the left.
Thanks to people just like you, local youth are being engaged in positive activities, encouraged to develop new skills, and empowered to realize their potential and make choices that will help them create a successful life after high school.
We invite you to be a part of guiding youth on a path to a brighter future, creating a better community for all of us!
You can help transform today's youth into tomorrow's successful adults!
Transitions are never easy, and this one was no exception. Christine, a recently divorced mother of three, moved from New York to Bound Brook, New Jersey for a new start. Her oldest son, Dylan, began first grade in a private school, but he struggled to adjust from his New York home to this new situation. Just like all mothers tend to do, Christine worried about Dylan’s future and how this change would affect him.
When Dylan began fourth grade, his private school closed, and he had another transition to handle: entering a public school. To help with his adjustment, his new teacher gave him a flyer about Middle Earth’s afterschool program, the 21st Century Community Learning Center. Christine thought it would be a great opportunity for Dylan to find friends with similar interests. That one decision has evolved into a five-year journey with Middle Earth that has transformed Dylan’s life!
Here are just a few of the ways that Dylan’s life has been impacted:
- Made quality friendships. Middle Earth programs provided a framework where Dylan could engage in positive recreational activities with many newfound friends. Christine said, “The other children that attended Middle Earth were wonderful – a very good group of kids.”
- Served the community. Dylan has volunteered in several community service projects helping him to learn responsibility and experience the confidence gained through making a difference in the lives of others. For example, with his peers, he helped organize a food drive for the local food bank.
- Developed leadership. Dylan has mentored 4-6th graders, creating and leading their activities in our afterschool program. Dylan also displayed his leadership skills while volunteering in Middle Earth’s hamburger stand at the Somerset County 4-H Fair. Dylan, in effect, became the “supervisor” over our board members, staff, and youth! He organized everyone so that the process between the front counter, grill, and food preparation went smoothly and efficiently. We even won the Blue Ribbon for cleanest counters!
- Discovered a new passion. Our programs expose youth to a variety of new experiences, educational trips, and interesting activities. It was through Middle Earth’s Art House that Dylan discovered drama, a passion he never knew he had. Dylan starred in the lead role as Hans Solo in a reproduction of the famous Star Wars Episode IV: Cantina Scene.
- Acquired employment readiness skills. Dylan has learned how to write a resume, interview, and behave in a work environment. Our Bike Shop provided Dylan with real work experience and taught him the basics of bicycle repair, how to run a small business, and customer service skills. Christine credits the Bike Shop with teaching Dylan responsibility and accountability.
- Found a positive role model. In addition to great programming, an investment in Middle Earth ensures that local youth have great role models. For Dylan, our staff member, Jon, has been a positive force in his life. Dylan said: “Jon kept me in check and made sure I stayed on track. He always kept me involved and busy." Christine said: “I cannot say enough good things about Jon. If he thought Dylan was struggling, no matter what it was, he would keep me informed. He's a very genuine and caring person. I believe Jon has had a very big impact on how far Dylan has come.”
There are so many more children out there just like Dylan who can benefit from the guidance at Middle Earth. Dylan’s sister started our afterschool program this September. Christine said: “We are looking forward to watching her grow in this program.” So are we! Every child we encounter is a diamond in the rough. With the right polishing and attention, they become more and more valuable. Without it, their potential stays covered up.