Faces of Success: Evelyn Shields
Evelyn Shields is the primary guardian of her eight-year-old granddaughter RayOnna and has been her caretaker since she was three months old.
Evelyn was worried about how she would keep RayOnna entertained all summer while she was working and the high cost of most summer camps. She learned about a summer program at Salama Urban Ministries being offered to grandparents raising their grandchildren at a discount and excitedly applied. RayOnna was accepted into the program and she was able to spend the summer learning and socializing with kids her age.
“She was really excited about going last summer. She always wanted to be on time and wanted to be picked up at the last minute so she could stay there as long as possible. She used to have very messy handwriting. Since she has been attending Salama, her handwriting has improved immensely. I can’t get over how good her handwriting is.”
When school started back, RayOnna also began attending Salama’s afterschool care program where they provide tutoring, games and snacks.
“The things she has learned at Salama have gotten her ahead of her classmates. They taught her multiplication over the summer so she has been doing great in school this year. It is so much easier for me to have these instructors help her with her homework. By the time I pick her up in the afternoon, her homework is already done.”
Salama Urban Ministries (which means peace in Swahili) serves the Greater Nashville area by providing robust programs to help youth thrive, regardless of barriers. Salama runs an extended learning program five days a week during the school year and a six week session (9.5 hours daily) during the summer. These programs strive to develop K-12 students into leaders, investing up to 650 hours a year per student in academics, the performing arts, and spiritual development.
“Salama has amazing staff who really care about each and every kid. I feel like RayOnna even gets a dose of love from her instructors too. The staff keeps a great relationship with the parents and notifies the parents if their child is misbehaving or needs extra help with school. I think she notices the stability that she has living with me and going to Salama. She has learned how to pray and say the blessing at Salama. She also loves all of her friends she has made there.”
Through the help of donations, Evelyn is able to send her granddaughter to after school care for just $25 a week. As a funded agency partner of United Way, Salama Urban Ministries is able to provide an after-school arts program that contributes to the improvement of reading, writing and math skills.
When you give to United Way, you are helping children like RayOnna on a pathway to success through education.