Northside, NAZ partner to help kids succeed

For LaShonda and her family, Catholic Charities’ Northside Child Development Center is home base—where they can all come together to start and end their busy days.

“If anything happens with them, they know they can go to Northside. It’s our meeting spot for our family.”

LaShonda and her family started coming to Northside a decade ago, when her son Navier, who dreams of becoming a professional football player, was just 3-years-old. Her daughter Jabrayah, who always seems to be twirling about, first came to Northside as an infant. LaShonda’s grandson Jayce also is in the infant room.

The single mom works as a community health worker at NorthPoint Health and Wellness, providing integrated care for women with high risk pregnancies. To make ends meet, she is also a freelance hair stylist and caterer.

“Northside helps me be able to keep a job and maintain my employment,” LaShonda said, speaking of early start times and late closing times which have made working feasible.

Save her adult daughter, all of LaShonda’s children and grandchildren have come to Northside.

“They have all learned a lot from Northside,” she said. “Northside is a learning environment. The staff is really there to support you. If you need anything, they try to help. It makes my family work.”

LaShonda and her family are also participants in Northside Achievement Zone’s College Bound Babies program. NAZ has a family achievement coach onsite at Northside and LaShonda attends parenting classes.  With that, Northside Child Development Center, Northside Achievement Zone and LaShonda are all working together to ensure a bright future for the kids.

LaShonda smiles when she thinks about the futures her children will have, in part thanks to their time spent at Northside.

“My 17-year-old Taryn, she aspires to be a crime scene investigator. We’re going on college tours now. She really loves dance, too,” she said.

“My son Navier, he’s a competitor. His drive for sports is everything. I can see him going for football or basketball,” she said. “I am pushing my kids to do something with their brain and something with sports.”

Jabrayah, who she calls her girls girl, just might be meant for the stage. “I can see her being an actress or a dancer. She likes musicals. I can see her performing in something.”

Jayce, her young grandson who she’ll soon adopt, already has shown a love for football and loves books.

“Maybe he’ll be my teacher,” she paused.  “No, maybe he’ll be our president.”

Jessica Foster
Jessica Foster
Writer, Multimedia Specialist at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

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