Stories



Charlie

Charles is 20-something young man with a bright smile. He is struggling with math – and admits it. With the additional understanding of math, he believes that he can take and pass his GED. Every job he has applied for has required a high school diploma and he believes obtaining his GED is the ticket to a successful future. Charles arrives early to Common Place every morning. He is always outside the building by 7:00 a.m. and sometimes earlier. When the ED arrives at 7:30 a.m. , he comes on inside to begin working on his math and has a cup of coffee. While we do not know too much about Charles’ background, he is committed to becoming a part of the fabric of Common Place and more than once has been encouraging of other student’s often twice his age or older. If we continue to mentor Charles and remain available to assist his educational goals, we believe along with Charles that he will succeed.

Diamond

“Diamond” is a third generation student at Common Place; both her grandmother and mother attended Common Place when teenagers. Her grandmother, Shirley, attended while in high school. After giving birth to a daughter, Shirley returned to Common Place to earn her GED with the help of Common Place tutors and staff members.  Her baby daughter, Jasmine, attended Common Place programs from an early age and, after graduating from high school with the help of Common Place tutors, attended a number of classes at ICC.  Jasmine’s daughter, Diamond, is now involved at Common Place as a middle school student. She attends our After School Youth Program and has been involved in a number of Common Place outreach opportunities. Diamond plans to follow her mother, who works as a CNA in a local retirement home, into the nursing field. Grandma “Shirley” believes that “If Common Place had not been there for her ‘back in the day’,  that the future for the three women in this family would have been nothing like the future we have today!”

Sabrina and Robert

At May Graduation two graduates celebrated together. . . Sabrina walked confidently across the stage, the pride of her family after achieving state honors for her academics and sports achievements.  Only weeks before Sabrina’s Dad had completed his own high school diploma. Receiving his GED from Common Place, Robert had achieved what he had sought to do; achieve his high school diploma prior to his daughter’s graduation.   Robert proved to be a very capable student and, once determining that earning his GED was his goal, he worked hard to make it happen. Sabrina’s Dad dropped out of high school during his sophomore year in order to work on the farm and care for his parents. Robert heard about Common Place through the news media and followed up with a phone call to Common Place.   He worked hard on his GED through fall /winter of 2016, tested, and received his GED in April . . . just in time for his daughter’s graduation!  Robert discovered it was “not too late to learn.” Since achieving his GED, he was promoted to a higher paying position in his company.  Just prior to the May graduation of his daughter, Sabrina, Robert stopped by Common Place with a portion of his first paycheck --- a gift to Common Place.

Anna

Anna is life-long Peorian. She attended Peoria Public Schools, but says she “never fit in” with her classmates.

After multiple moves to different homes, living in her uncle’s parked car an extended period, and experiencing at least 15 moves to new school situations prior to 9th grade, Anna left school entirely. Today at age 27, she looks like a woman twice that age; a victim of both her lifestyle and living conditions.  Anna visits the Common Place Friday Food pantry where she looks forward to being welcomed with respect. In the future, we hope to continue to greet Anna and others who stay wherever they can find a roof over their heads.  Many of our current students and others we serve are the best possible outreach for Anna who “feels welcome at the Common Place.”

George

“My Grandad is one of the most wise men I know – but he just can’t read.”  It takes a brilliant mind to work hard on an assembly line for 40 years, manage shift and leadership changes along the way, raise a family of five, serve his church, and enter retirement.  With a grandson’s discovery that his grandfather’s life goal had been to learn to read, a new chapter began for a 60 year old neighborhood gentleman.  His grandson brought George to Common Place two years ago. With the support of Common Place, George shares, “I can read scripture myself.  Don’t have to memorize it just from hearing. . . When my grandson graduated with his Bachelor degree this spring, I read his name in the program.  Being able to read just brings me peace. “

Reese

Reese is a neighborhood 5th grader. He loves to learn, but struggles to fit in with his peer group and often decides that it’s “just easier to stay home” rather keep trying to make friends. Non-athletic, he is a hard worker when given a task. Recently attending a Saturday morning “Loaves and Fishes” outing to serve lunch to those in need of a meal, Reese discovered his calling. . . Within two weeks after the first outing, Reese has signed up again for another adventure in service learning.  Service learning provides our young people with an opportunity to earn the respect and discover their passion to reach out to others. Reese also loves to eat; and it naturally follows that he loves to learn to cook.  After his “Loaves and Fishes” experience, Reese couldn’t wait to join CP/4H Cooking Camp. In addition to looking forward to “Loaves and Fishes”, Reese helps set up tents for Youth Summer Camp meals.  Common Place, according to his family, provides a safe place away from the peer pressure of Reese’s school and neighborhood. By helping to involve Reese at Common Place and offering him additional opportunities for success in the community, Common Place is helping young person approach manhood with a whole new perspective.

Tanisha

Tanisha’s anger seemed to come out of nowhere. Once a “straight A” student, involved in her school, and viewed as a leader, Tanisha was now seen a middle schooler with a “chip on her shoulder.”  At a loss, her mother brought her to Common Place in hope that one-to-one attention and after school activities would help support her daughter.  In truth, her mother’s reaching out to Common Place was a life-changer for Tanisha. The State of Illinois has designated the hours after school from 2:30-6:30 as the most dangerous for youth. As a middle schooler in a single parent home, Tanisha had been harassed during and after school and then been unable to share this turmoil with her hardworking mother. Once removed from the neighborhood situation and attending Common Place for after school tutoring and activities, Tanisha has become a thriving 8th grader.  She continues to be is involved in Common Place STEM education opportunities, weekend Teen Reach activities, and is serving as a volunteer on our community projects.   Common Place provides a safety net for students like Tanisha simply by providing a welcome “open door”, quality academic supports and activities to help engage and enrich student lives.