Not another statistic
CRYSTAL (Little Lights Alum)
Every day when school ends, Darriyah meets up with Little Lights staff member, Mr. Bernard, and together they walk the few blocks to the Hopkins Center. As soon as she walks through the door, Darriyah says she feels “ready to work” — because she knows people at Little Lights care about her and will help her do her best. Now 9 years old and in 4th grade, Darriyah has been at Little Lights since she was three years old. And her mother, Crystal, attended Little Lights before her.
As Darriyah walks through the Hopkins Center, she excitedly points out the photo tree with all the students’ photos, including hers, and says “it makes me feel like I belong here.” She points to the carpet circle she sits on during community time and shares how she loves that Ms. Cierra always uses that time to ask her how her day went. She pats the foosball machine and boasts that she beats everyone, even the adults. Finally, she gets to the homework room and starts sharing about her tutors and how they help her understand the things that do not make sense right away. They are the reason she feels “ready to work ” — and the reason she has consistently made honor roll.
Years before Darriyah was born, her mom, Crystal, came to Little Lights almost every day. To her, “Little Lights is like the family I never had.” It was through Little Lights that Crystal learned about God, and learned that the cycle she saw repeating itself in her community was not one she had to fall into. “I’ve seen people get killed. I’ve seen drug addicts do drugs and not care that there are kids present. Growing up in that environment your whole life, it seems normal. But then to think about it as you’re older, and seeing it done to the kids around you, it’s sad.”
She decided, “I don’t want to be a statistic, like every other female that comes out of here.” And she did not want that for her daughter, either.
“Coming from a household where I really didn’t have anything, that’s something that’s hopeless to me. And I would never want my daughter to have that hopeless feeling. Like she’s never going to get out of here, she’s never going to have anything, she’s never going to be good enough. I don’t want her to have that hopeless feeling of never being able to do or have or see.” That is why Crystal has a job with Little Lights, and why she has Darriyah involved in almost every Little Lights program. Darriyah dreams of going to college, like Ms. Cierra, and becoming a leader, like her mom. At Little Lights, Darriyah can feel that her future is full of possibility.