Sheba Lindsey served with City Year Chicago as an AmeriCorps member during the 1995-1996 service year. Now, her daughter DuVonna Haynes is carrying on that tradition of service nearly twenty years later. Sheba attended City Year Chicago’s Opening Day Ceremony to pass on her red jacket to her daughter as she starts her year of service at Kelvyn Park High School in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood.
City Year Chicago: What motivated you to join City Year Chicago in 1996?
Sheba Lindsey: My daughter DuVonna is my first-born. I was a teenage mom and at the time I was distant from my family. I knew that I wanted to make a difference in this child’s life in some major way. As I was going along, not knowing what direction I was going to go in at the time, I knew I had to find some sort of community. This brought me to City Year, where I learned the values that I hold dear today. I instilled these values in DuVonna because I knew they would ripple out through her wherever she goes. You can’t save everybody, but just that one—that ONE will make a difference. That’s the starfish story, and DuVonna is my starfish.
City Year Chicago: How did your mother’s service shape you as you were growing up, DuVonna?
DuVonna Haynes: My mother always embraced my ideas and my creativity. She also encouraged diversity. We would travel to many places and she let me be socially aware of things and never sugar coated anything but, at the same time, she taught me to embrace diversity and difference. I think it says a lot that at a young age I did not have any negative thoughts when it came to race or difference. Everyone comes from a different culture, but anyone can make a difference. She also continues to let me know that I can do anything I can set my mind to. As long as I stay positive and get support, I can make a difference, just like the Starfish Story represents.
City Year Chicago: Why do you serve today and where will you serve this year?
DuVonna Haynes: This morning, I dedicated my red jacket to my little brothers. They are definitely a big part of why I serve. This year I work in a traditional high school. There is a new administration and we just started serving there, which makes it hard to see a clear path. But our team is so strong and we work together so well that I know we will make an impact. I already have a student that I have bonded with on the second day of school. I look forward to being there as a mentor, so I will encourage them to continue their high school career on the right path.
City Year Chicago: Sheba, what have you been doing since City Year?
Sheba Lindsey: Today I have two more children at home, two boys who are going into their teenage years, and I am currently grooming them for a life of service. I believe it takes a community to raise a child and everything we do in a community affects every child. I got my GED and went to college where I studied early childhood development, and City Year helped me get there. From there my life changed. I developed relationships with different sponsors, and there is one called the Children’s Place in Humboldt Park at the time. After City Year, I ended up working for them in the at the retail shop to benefit the home. That led me into management and now I use that to serve my community in Michigan. I am very proud of where City Year has started and where it is today, and how many people actually serve with the program. I never thought I would see over 200 people serve their community in a single year - and Chicago is a BIG community, so GO City Year Chicago!