Karissa Jackson first walked into the Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club when she was 9 years old.
She had spent the last few years after school at home, and her mom thought it would be a great opportunity for her to play with kids, find homework help, and get involved while she was tied up at work.
Karissa was small for her age and had always felt self-conscious. Slowly, at her Club, she found a real sense of belonging among her peers. She had a strong family, but they were faced with some tough challenges, and the staff served as a great source of support and counsel for her during these times. Karissa shares, “The Club is family. Mr. Nathaniel…he’s my grandad all the way! There has never been a time when he wasn’t there for me.”
When Karissa turned 11, she got the surprise of a lifetime at her Club. She remembers sitting in an assembly surrounded by hundreds of other kids when her name was announced for the annual Shining Star award. “I had no idea I would get it. I felt noticed for being me. I felt like I could really do something.”
This started Karissa down a path of service and giving back.
During her time at the Club, Karissa has participated in initiatives surrounding road clean-ups and community beautification, served meals to firefighters and first responders, and mentored the younger kids who look up to her.
She lives by a quote that Maya Angelou once wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
To Karissa, her Club makes her feel heard, seen, and loved. She hopes to help others find this feeling too.
When Karissa graduates in 2019, she plans to attend Kennesaw University and pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.
Support Karissa on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags: #YOYKarissa, #YOY2017, and #TheTimeIsNow
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