A few days ago, I went to a greeting card store to pick up the many cards I needed. While I was reading one of them, I noticed the cashier was looking at me. When I finally stood in front of her at the cashier, she asked sheepishly, “Do you remember me? It’s been a long time, more than 20 years ago.” I looked at the sweet smile on this woman’s face and realized there was something familiar about her, but I could not place it. She seemed to have noticed my embarrassment and said, “I think I was in the first school group you ran at Ventura High School with Mrs. Meyers. Your daughter was probably two or three years old. How old is she now?”
“Chelsea is 27 and she’s a hairstylist at TEN DASH ONE Hair Studio here in Ventura.” I responded. It was her next statement that astonished me, “I think you and Mrs. Meyers helped save my life. I was struggling in school, hanging around a gang and not feeling very good about myself. In group, you told us that we were valuable just because.” “Just because?” I asked. “Exactly, you said, just because.” “Because what?” I asked her. “Let me remind you of the rest of what you said, it goes something like this. “You girls are valuable; you don’t need to do anything, or be anyone, or have anything to be valuable. You are valuable.” “Those words stuck with me even when I left school early because I was pregnant, even though I got a GED rather than a diploma. I figured it out when my little girl was born, I would love her just because. I think you were talking about God loving me. You know Betty, later this month - my hija is graduating from Cal State Channel Islands, I knew she could do it just because.”
I left that store with a gift, a gift from a once struggling teenager who realized that she was valuable, just because. That in a nutshell is City Impact’s mission to tell children, youth and families that God loves them, honors them and embraces them. Not because they are worthy. No, just because. Thank you for continuing to support the work of City Impact it does make a difference in people’s lives.
Because of Him,
Betty Alvarez Ham
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