Alaysia Braxton is a shy twelve year old and recent 5th grade graduate from Blackwell Elementary School. With four younger siblings and a single mom, school has not always easy for Alaysia. She often came to school hungry and tired. Abby Dini, the CIS-R site coordinator at Blackwell, recognized that Alaysia was struggling and reached out to help. She soon learned that Alaysia and her family were experiencing homelessness.
Reflecting on her first interactions with CIS and Ms. Dini, Alaysia shared, “I didn’t have food, clothes, and no shoes”. The instability that Alaysia faced outside of school was impacting her in school, causing her grades to drop.
“On a personal level it is heartbreaking but that is what propelled me to go out and make sure I was getting all of the resources that were needed to help her and her family” Ms. Dini said. Some of the resources that Ms. Dini was able to secure for Alaysia included new clothes through the CIS-R partnership with Children Incorporated, a program that raises funds to support children living in poverty with basic necessities.
Additionally, CIS-R connected Alaysia with after-school programs that exposed her to new experiences. Ms. Dini was also able to connect her with the Blessings In a Backpack program that sends her home with food over weekends.
Creating a plan for Alaysia and providing wrap-around services, would have been a more arduous task without the support of Alaysia’s mom, Aleta Braxton. “Just watching the way that she is successful in overcoming some of these challenges makes it that much more important that we’re working together with Alaysia and her family” Ms. Dini said of her close connection with Ms. Braxton. Surrounded by a community of support, Alaysia was able to improve her grades in her 5th grade year. She also joined the Academic Honey Bears, the school’s cheerleading club, and for Alaysia the best part of her day.