Darlene Harvey works for the Salvation Army, IIF's partner for the IZZYz KIDz After School Program.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Darlene Harvey. I have been a Salvation Army Officer for almost 25 years - which means that I am an ordained minister and an administrator for The Salvation Army. I grew up in the Detroit area and started attending The Salvation Army through their youth programs when I was 8. My family and I live in the Chicago area and I am the Program Development Officer for The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center located in the far south side of Chicago.
How did you first hear about the Israel Idonije Foundation?
I first learned about the Israel Idonije Foundation when their former CEO contacted me asking to come and visit the Kroc Center. When we met, we realized that our missions were very aligned and that we could partner together to provide programming to the youth on the far south side of Chicago.
As a partnering organization, how do you support the foundation?
The Salvation Army and IIF have worked together in providing programming for the youth in the areas of social and emotional learning and development. The foundation provides funding for our after-school programming for our teens. This program helps youth set goals for college and career, learn about conflict resolution, tutoring, financial planning, cultural exposure, and much more. We also have hosted the Israel Idonije Foundation Football and Cheerleading Camp.
Can you tell us a little more about the Kroc Center?
The Salvation Army Kroc Center is a 160,000 square foot facility situated on 33 acres in the West Pullman Community on the far-south side of Chicago. It houses four gyms, a competition pool, a leisure pool, a senior center, teen zone, performing arts center, dance studios, art studios, music rehearsal room, a computer lab, classrooms for after-school programming and tutoring. The Kroc Center was built with money received from Joan Kroc who gave the majority of her estate to The Salvation Army to build state-of-the-art facilities in under-resource communities. Our programming helps participants reach their potentials physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. It is a place where dreams are birthed, nurtured, and realized! It is an inter-generational center that has something for everybody. Mrs. Kroc's donation has helped us bring hope and light to the community.
What would you say to others to encourage them to support efforts to benefit under-represented youth?
If you invest in youth, you are not only making a great investment for now, but for the future. Youth are leaders today and leaders tomorrow. If communities come together to support efforts of under-represented youth, they will not only help individuals, but whole communities and society. It is a way to bring a future and a hope to a young person and also improve a society. Plus, it personally feels great to give to others!
Can you share a personal story that for you represents what IZZYz KIDz is all about?
I would like to emphasize that the Israel Idonije Foundation represents the person that Israel Idonije is. Not only does the foundation have great goals and vision for how they want to utilize their resources to the best way to make an impact for youth, but Izzy (Israel Idonije) gets involved on a personal level. He gets to know the young people in the program by name. He comes and "hangs" with them in the Teen Zone. He shows an interest in their passions and goals. He relates to them and inspires them. I remember all of the kids gathered around him and him showing them a video on his phone. They love when he visits. They say that he is the nicest, famous person they know. He is such a genuine and sincere person. It is this sincerity that is life-changing and transforming. We thank God for Izzy and his very generous foundation that is making a great impact on our youth!