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E-Don! Over the last three years as a Project LEAD E-Don was like a constant fountain of laughter and jokes. Every group benefits from having team members who will reach out and create a friendly, welcoming, and fun vibe. For Lyndale, E-Don held that role down. Her words instantly became catch phrases often imitated never replicated. “Getcha Getcha!” It has been an absolute joy knowing E-Don for the last five years. It has been one of the great rewards of working at Youth Farm seeing her grow into a mature young adult who is incredibly strong, with a vision for how she wants her life to be, and the self-advocacy to make it a reality.

Jessi says she still remembers the first time she met E-Don, hanging out at the wading pool over by Lyndale School. E-Don knew a couple of other All Stars from down the block,  Ayan and Hodan. She started coming around our cooking classes and All Stars programs, but was never able to be around summer too much. She was one of our first LEAD who knew Youth Farm primarily through the school year and not the summer. Still, when she stepped into our summer program as a staff she had an immediate impact. One frequent visitor told me that every time she came by, she always saw E-Don positively engaged and talking with our youth no matter how hot or tired she was. That consistent attention to our young people at every turn really set her apart.

E-Don has recently moved on from us and from Minnesota. Though she still has a bit of school left, it still feels like she’s graduated from Youth Farm this spring. She’s held a consistent dream of becoming a police officer, and I look forward to hearing from her and supporting her as she pursues her next steps. Working with her brought to life our goals of building healthy relationships, and has so significantly impacted my work and life over the last two years. Thank you E-Don! We miss you already!

*This post is part of a series acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions of Youth Farm’s 2016 graduates. It was written by Director of South Minneapolis Programs, Phil Rooney*