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NJ Resiliency in Action: How Leaders for Life Helped Gloria, A Struggling Mother in Newark

 

My name is Gloria and I’m a 36-year-old Puerto Rican mom of five children — three boys and two girls — who was born and raised in Newark. In December 2016 I was able to move my family out of a small two-bedroom apartment in Bradley Courts housing project to a four-bedroom apartment on Clinton Place and that’s where my family became a part of the Leaders for Life (L4L) family.

One of my sons is a special needs child who is always looking for friends and a place to play. He started finding new friends by walking past houses and peeking into windows. Then one day, he asked if he could enter one home, the home of Altarik White — “Mr. White” — the founder and executive director of L4L. My son won Mr. White’s heart and came running home with paperwork begging me to sign him up for L4L. Eventually my girls wanted to be a part of the program too. It has supported us through after school programs, back to school, book bags and supplies, Christmas gifts, summer camp, and gift cards during COVID-19.

The love and support didn’t stop there. My older son was having a lot of issues in school and wanted to drop out. I came to Mr. White and asked him for help — I didn’t know what else to do. L4L took my son into their program. Thanks to the awesome staff and incredible teachers, my son got his high school diploma.

But, once again, the love and support didn’t stop there. I dropped out of high school when I was 16 and never was able to go back. I had a hard life — I had to take care of my sick mom and later I had kids, which pulled me further away from school. It seemed over for me, but something told me L4L might be able to help. I wanted to show my kids that I could do it. Mr. White opened his arms to me and now I stand before you as a high school graduate. I cannot thank L4L enough for their continued support for my family. They are truly strengthening families and removing barriers.

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