Make The Solution Possible.
With the prayers and support of people like you, By The Hand has grown from serving 16 kids in Cabrini-Green to 1,523 kids at five sites in some of Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods.
We know the need is great and even a short delay can be too late. Fortunately, we also know The Solution, and what it takes to make it possible. Please join us as we take our kids by the hand and walk with them from kindergarten through college. Help us provide the holistic support they need—loving and nurturing the mind, body and soul. Rejoice with us as the power of human and divine love transforms lives.
Please complete this short form and a member of our team will connect with you.
I AM THE SOLUTION. I AM MADEJA.
When I got to sixth grade, I was struggling at my new school so bad my principal told Momma about this after-school program that ends at 7 p.m. Momma signed me and my sister up, saying “Okay. You start next week.” She wanted us off the streets when a lot of bad things happen.
During my first day at By The Hand, kids from different schools were running around and eating snacks. Not knowing if any would like me or how I would be treated, I didn’t talk much. But a lot of friendly staff and volunteers kept checking in on me. Then we went to this chapel thing. It was kind of weird. They talked about God and sang songs I never heard before. But I saw how much joy it brought to the kids.
Over time, I could tell the site director really believed in me. He would say, “Madeja, you are a leader.” And he would say it loud enough for others to hear. “You see Madeja doing her homework, she is doing everything she is supposed to do. She’s got a bright future ahead of her.” I loved getting those compliments and all the positive things they said. It made me be more mature.
If I got into trouble at the club or didn’t want to do something, I would leave. Of course, I got suspended. When there was drama between me and some girls, we got counseling. After that, we started talking more and became closer, and that was good.
When I couldn’t go to Six Flags Great America with the other kids because of three Ds on my report card, it upset me. It also motivated me to do better in school so I could go on By The Hand trips. I started with a 2.2 GPA. But after that, there was only one time I didn’t get all ABCs— even when I took AP classes. I am grateful for the volunteers helping me with my homework. They taught me a lot—and to never give up.
One summer we went to a Christian camp in Missouri. I have never been out of Chicago for that long. I slept in a cabin and went hiking, tubing, speedboat riding, canoeing and took a treetop course—things I’ve never done before.
We also talked about Jesus Christ 24/7. A night before we left, it was dark and they treated this man so wrong while he wasn’t fully dressed. He was getting whipped and everything and I was scared. I cried. They said that was Jesus. They said this was how he died on the cross for our sins. I started to get sad because I didn’t know a man did all that for us. The next day I rang the bell saying, “I give my life to Christ.” That would not have happened if it weren’t for By The Hand. That moment changed my life forever.
I also thank God for my mentors. My first was Ruth, a short Asian woman who came to our all black community. She talked to me like she cared about everything. I wanted her to always be with me but, of course, she couldn’t do that. So she gave me her cell number. And she bought a green and blue journal for us to write back and forth to each other. She’d write first, then I’d take it home every day to read and write back. Whenever I was sad or upset, like when my grandma passed away, she calmed me down just by listening to me. Having someone who listens is the most amazing feeling in the world. When I cried, she hugged me and we prayed—well, she did. I closed my eyes but didn’t really understand how she could ask God for so much. It was an important moment in my life and I thank God for it.
I am now in my second year at Taylor with a 3.0 GPA. I wouldn’t be here without a relationship with God and all the wonderful people at By The Hand. They believed in me and supported me—mind, body and soul. And you made it possible.
BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION.
You can play a life-changing role in solving the violence and disparity in Chicago. There are many ways to join The Solution. And each way helps children like Madeja experience abundant and everlasting life.