One For One Goes One-On-One In A COVID World

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Communications Director, One for One

2020 Chicago Peace Fellow Meghan Olson is the Founder and Executive Director of One For One Chicago, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young adults living in Chicago neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime and joblessness. Since 2007, the organization has been committed to breaking the cycle of violence by enriching the lives of youth, helping them connect and thrive within their communities and beyond.

Through employment, immersive workshops and year-round support services, One for One provides opportunities that nurture values and integrity and help teens forge a bright future.

One For One believes in the fundamental idea that one person, one choice, one step, one chance, one job, one day, one opportunity...can change a life. The organization’s mission is to foster transformative connections that help youth navigate a positive path forward.

Since the pandemic, One For One has had to find new ways of making those connections happen.

One For One Leans Into Compassion

Before COVID, much of One For One’s programming centered around employment and internships in urban agriculture and group workshops focused on career readiness. One For One was grateful that its flagship summer greenhouse internship program was able to thrive last summer due outdoor environment, which allowed for fresh air and social distancing. However, it has been difficult to continue several of its ongoing programming during the year in the same way.

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The organization works closely year-round with teens at John Marshall Metropolitan High School in Garfield Park. With Chicago Public Schools being remote for the past year, routines have been hard to come by, and One For One has had to find new ways to keep connected to the teens in their program.

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Though One For One has had to pivot to support youth in their program, the organization is dedicated to meeting the kids where they are at—listening, learning and helping them in any ways that are needed.

Hear directly from One For One Teens on compassion:

Virtual Mentoring For The Win

1F104One-on-one virtual mentorship has been a huge blessing during these times. Zae, a student in the program, graduated a semester early from high school last fall, only to be left awaiting college in the middle of a pandemic. One For One has been able to continue to help him nurture his talents, connecting him to a professional acting coach for virtual face-to-face sessions.

“I had the pleasure of working with Zae this winter. I taught him some of the principles of Method acting: relaxation, creating real behavior and more. Acting skills are also life skills-- Zae took to the work very well. I look forward to working with him again!” - Jeremy Kruse, professional actor and acting coach

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Joseph, another student in One For One, was exposed to tv and filmmaking for the first time at a past workshop with CBS Television and the cast and crew of ‘The Good Fight’. The incredible experience inspired and opened Joseph’s eyes to the inner workings of television, filmmaking and photography. He has kept in touch with ‘The Good Fight’ director/producer Brooke Kennedy and has continued to have virtual check-ins and mentoring sessions with her, even during the pandemic.

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“It’s in times like these that the values One for One participants already have innate within them become more important than ever - having courage, determination and integrity, reaching your full potential and never giving up in the face of adversity and barriers and most important, embracing life one person and opportunity at a time.” -- Meghan Olson, One For One Founder & Executive Director

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For more info on One For One, visit www.oneforonechicago.org

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