For many years, parishioners Audrey and Dan Casey have supported Asian Youth Services (AYS) in Chicago in many ways. It is a center that provides whatever it can for youth in a very poor area, including meals, an after-school program, and tutoring. The name is a bit of a misnomer … it began as a program for Asian youth but as the neighborhood has changed, it now ministers to all youth in the area. The founder and only full-time worker is Shari Fenton. Shari has a remarkable personal story.
Shari knew early on that she wanted to help children “to give them a fighting chance.” After working with another non-profit engaging refugee families in Uptown and not liking what she saw, she struck out on her own. It has been 27 years of six-to-seven day work weeks with no vacations. When Uptown began to gentrify due to condo conversions, many of her charges moved to Albany Park. AYS followed and is now serving a second generation of clientele: former students who are grown and are now sending their children to her program. Why? Because they remember when they needed furniture or a winter coat or had to bomb their apartment for bed bugs, AYS was there. Most importantly, they need a safe, supervised place to keep their children out of harm’s way.
Every year at Christmas, the Casey’s deliver the children’s gifts remaining from the Care Pantry Christmas Party to Asian Youth Services. Below is a thank you from Shari.
I just wanted to thank you so much for the toys and clothes you so faithfully donated. Besides the children at AYS, we shared with the children at the Rohinga Center for refugees and multiple families in Englewood. None of this would have been possible without your help. I had a couple of moms in tears because their children received gifts that they couldn’t provide. Your church has been blessing these families for years.
Thanks. Shari Fenton