Hello everyone! My name is Aleesha Gray and my site this summer is Jackson Park. Before I start talking about all the wonderful perks of Jackson Park and, of course, what makes Jackson Park such a lively place to be at every day, I would like to give some in depth information on who I am and a little background about me. I am currently going into my freshman year of college. I’m from Seattle, Washington and have grown up here my entire life. You should also know that I am currently a resident at Jackson Park and have been living there for about ten years now, so I have a deeper connection and love for this community than you can even imagine.
So far, my days of providing my own community with food and fun through HIP have been quite eye opening. I have seen how much Jackson Park has changed and grown. Believe it or not, HIP has brought change to Jackson Park. When I was a lot younger, summers at Jackson Park were a lot more dull and boring. Us kids didn’t have much to do, given the fact that we didn’t have many resources or even a program like HIP that came to the playground periodically and provided free food and activities. If we wanted to have fun or experience something fun, we had to go outside the park and often times many of us couldn’t do that. Keep in mind that the park was a little rougher back then—it was reconstructed in 2013 or 2014. We had members from the community stop by sometimes and play with us, but not as much as there is today.
My experience at Jackson Park this summer has been great. I just have to say it has been a complete honor to be given the chance to spend the summer with these intelligent, bright, and yet crazy kids. I can say firsthand that I thought this process was going to be easy. I thought to myself “Oh yeah, how hard can it be hanging out with some kids I already happen to know, feed them some great food, and engage them in some activities?’’ Well let me INFORM YOU, being one person and working with about 10 different personalities all at once is not easy, but I can never complain because that’s what brings light to this job. Nothing is the same, and every day I look forward to a different experience. I’m constantly moving on this job, adapting and learning. The kids at my site are so gifted too– they never fail to blow my mind with the things they say or even with the art they make. There was a specific moment at my site where I was schooled on the difference between what a ‘’normal bee” is and a yellow jacket. I should inform you, an intense debate broke out and I still don’t know if I quite understand the difference, but hopefully you get the point. These kids are smart and they all have bright futures ahead of them. I can’t wait to see what they become. Being able to run a site at Jackson Park has touched my heart this summer because I really realize how amazing and close the people are to each other in our community. I can confidently say there is no other place like Jackson Park and I’m glad I got the chance to serve there.