When I grow up, I want to be a great person

Dec 11, 2012



By Dawnielle

The audio clip above was recorded when my mentee, Angy and I participated in NPR’s StoryCorp in October. Angy and I have known each other since she was finishing Kindergarten and as you can see in the photo she has grown up quite a bit.  She is now in the 6th grade and is an amazing kid.

My question prompt to Angy the morning of the interview was, “What are your dreams for the future?” I was expecting to hear a response of, “I want to be a singer, a fashion designer or as she later states in the interview, an immigration lawyer.”  Perhaps she would say, “I want all of my family to come to the United States.”  or “I want to get married, have kids, have a good job and a nice house.” However, Angy had a different dream for herself in mind. She wants to become a “great person”…a person who is nice, a person who is accepting, a person who “loves her neighbor as herself” something she also states in the interview as the greatest lesson she has learned from Kids Club. You see, the dream that she has for her own future is even more beautiful than I had imagined her response would be.  When I asked the question and listened, I was welcomed into that dream. We tell the kids all the time that their education is important but what really matters is what God is doing on the inside and Angy is taking that to heart.

We, Casa Chirilagua, as an organization are trying to move forward even more in the area of “listening to the community.” In order to be an impactful organization, we need leaders who listen. It is my goal to visit every Casa Chiri family by the end of January 2013. During my visit, I will spend time listening to their dreams for their family and for Casa Chirilagua.

I have had the pleasure of starting some of those visits and have been pleasantly surprised that many of the parents’ dreams matched what we were already dreaming as an organization. One of my favorite conversations was with Edna.  I asked her, “What should Casa Chirilagua focus on in order to be a good support for your family and other families in the future?”  She said, “I think we need more economic resources, like a bus to transport students to field trips.“ I agreed and we are taking some proactive steps to get a bus.  Then she looked up with a smile and said, “How big can I dream?” I replied, “As big as you want.” She replied, “It would be great if Kids Club had its own space. Casa Chirilagua is like home for me. When Kimberly and Fredis are grown and are no longer in the program, I hope they will be able to help the other children but even if my children aren’t there, I will still come by and visit and I will help because I know I have friends and family there.” I smiled in response and said, “Maybe one day, Edna. With God all things are possible.”

What I loved about Edna’s response, wasn’t the dream of having our own building, though I would love to see that happen some day. She communicated to me that a portion of the dream that started 6 years ago is being realized. Casa Chirilagua isn’t just an organization that runs after school programs. It is a community built on reciprocal relationships, it is a family where people feel valued, feel they belong and experience God’s love.

Imagine…getting involved in the life of a child and his or her family.  Imagine…helping us buy a bus.  Imagine…donating your professional skills to bless this organization. Imagine…your role in helping to bring hope to life.

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

Learn More

Get Involved

Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.