The ripple effect

At the HALO Center, our volunteer hosts prepare for weeks leading up to our workshops that are geared toward giving youth the tools to become contributing members of their communities. Here is an example of a struggle we have had and how one person created a positive ripple effect to eliminate that struggle.

Stacey, a volunteer workshop instructor, creates a curriculum based on her experience as a cosmetologist. She imagines how her workshop will play out, how the kids will respond and how her course may just be the spark that helps one of the HALO youth find a positive path, much like she did. There is an excited, anxious energy at the HALO Center as Stacey and other volunteers wait on the youth to arrive. They are expecting the group at 6:30 and lay out materials for each youth. 

At the homeless shelter, Valerie prepares for her time at HALO. She has been there a few times before, and explored some options for what she may want to do beyond high school. Tonight she has signed up for a cosmetology workshop, which has interested her since she can remember. She is excited to learn from someone who actually does it for a living and who could give her some direction. Right when she is ready to walk out her room door, a shelter staff member knocks to say the workshop has been cancelled.

6:30 rolls around and nobody shows up at the HALO Center. 7:00 and nothing happens. Our Program Director calls the shelter to see when they can be expected and the answer is disappointing. They are unable to come tonight because of transportation issues.

Its a ripple effect. Shelters have had budget cuts, which means staff cuts, which means if something comes up ranging from transportation issues to behavior issues, HALO can take a back seat. This has been a challenge since we opened the HALO Center. The children are disappointed, the volunteers are bummed. The wind is taken out of the sails for everyone.
Last week a very engaged donor heard about our need for our own transportation. We explained that with freedom to pick up youth from any point in the city comes stability for everyone involved and a more effective program. After learning about the impact, he said “Let’s get a van!” 

Chelsea Herzberg, HALO Center Program Director, shopping for a new van.
Now this ripples throughout our organization. Our staff is more confident in recruiting volunteers, our volunteers are more engaged without dealing with let down, our youth is exposed to more opportunity, and hundreds of additional children and teens like Valerie will get a chance to pursue their dreams. This van will get Kansas City youth in the most need from point A to point B. Point A being some of the most difficult situations you can imagine. Point B being a bright future.

Let’s say Valerie takes the cosmetology class, succeeds, and is encouraged by Stacey to look at some schools. She applies, gets in, and receives a full pell grant which she will not have to pay back. She graduates and is referred to a high-end salon by Stacey, her mentor. Valerie is the first person in her family to hold down a regular job since she can remember. She gets and apartment with a fellow stylist, saves her money to buy a car, and is able to completely support herself.

The pattern has been broken. Thanks to Stacey and the volunteers, the van donor, the shelter, the HALO Program Director, and the man who generously donates the space for the HALO Center, Valerie is reaching her dream. Each of these people may not get to see the impact they have had, but Valerie knows it every day.

We all have the capability of creating ripple effects in this life, positive or negative. If we were able to see the full impact of our actions, we may reconsider some of our choices. This is something to consider with every action we take. To learn more about creating a positive ripple effect by supporting or volunteering at the HALO Center, email