Looking back on her childhood, Andrea is grateful for the role CORA Services played in her development, socially and emotionally. According to Andrea, there were a few very rough years, during elementary school, where she changed schools and experienced some family hardships. While she was a third grade student at St. Bartholomew’s, her parents divorced. She says it was her CORA Counselor, Gloria, who saved her.
“Gloria gave me the attention I needed to make me feel special and taught me to be self-reliant, so I could overcome my difficult family situation”.
CORA’s Counselors are highly professional and specially trained to recognize the warning signs children exhibit, and step in and offer help where needed. Gloria saw a young girl that needed guidance – she stepped in at the right time and it made all the difference for Andrea. She helped Andrea focus on the positive aspects of school and get involved in sports. It was because of CORA and Gloria’s compassion and dedication that Andrea gained confidence.
In 8th grade, Andrea participated in a school activities fair and discovered the CORA Peer Helper Program. Her experiences as a Peer Helper, mentoring younger students, enabled her to develop a “can do!” attitude. She helped coordinate school events, tutored students in lower grades and learned leadership skills that proved to be valuable in her life as she approached adulthood and eventually in her professional life.
Today, Andrea has a successful career as a credit analyst for GM Financial. CORA has always remained close to her heart. Andrea’s fond memories of CORA and her appreciation for what CORA services did for her, motivated her to pay it forward this past holiday season. Andrea coordinated a team of her colleagues and executed a service project at one CORA’s afterschool programs. GM Financial partnered with Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and Keyera Daniels, CORA’s Site Director, to bring an early Christmas surprise to children enrolled in after care there.
Keyera supplied Andrea’s team at GM Financial with a wish list from the children, ranging in age from kindergarten to eighth grade. Andrea enthusiastically coordinated a holiday party complete with pizza, presents, even a Santa! The GM Financial employees and the children had a great time celebrating together and each child received a surprise gift from Santa – chosen especially for them. Andrea truly put her Peer Helper leadership skills into action!
Giving back to CORA through volunteerism was a great experience for Andrea. She was filled with emotion as the children expressed gratitude for their toys.
“It was amazing to see all of the children’s faces filled with excitement and appreciation. Some of the children were just so happy with what they received – even if it was a simple toy or outfit. It made my colleagues and I remember how fortunate we are and prompted us to better appreciate what we have, and enjoy the ability to make some child’s day.”
CORA Services has been helping children grow and develop since our doors first opened in 1971. Our Peer Helper Program will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. We are proud to celebrate 25 years of guiding middle school youth into leadership roles. Although Gloria is no longer with us, we know she would be extremely proud of the resilient and compassionate individual Andrea has become. As the programs at CORA evolve to better serve the changing needs of our community, CORA’s fundamental mission remains constant – Children are the Heart of the Matter.
February 2017 CORA CONNECTION