We all have chance encounters with people every now and then — but how often can you say the experience changed your life? Delvyn can.
The year – 2009.
The place – Milwaukee’s Lakefront.
Delvyn was there with his firstborn son, Cade, for some playtime when a grandmother approached them and started asking about schooling for his boy.
“She was just kind of talking about how she had her grandchild in Educare at Next Door, and how it was so beneficial and there were a lot of different things that you can involve yourself in when it came down to your children, and maybe you should go give it a try,” Delvyn said.
Delvyn gave it a try and turned his family’s life around.
Life on the Home Front
When Delvyn enrolled Cade in Educare, he said life at home was tough. He lost his carpet cleaning and janitorial business after the 2008 recession and was working a third-shift job. To make ends meet, he also had to make a move.
“My wife and I were living where we were living for eight years and then it came to a point where we had to go live at my in-law’s house,” he said.
At the same time, Delvyn was raising his two boys, Cade and Cyrus, in a city known to be one of the worst places in the country for African Americans to live. A dim future was in store based on the statistics and headlines – but Next Door was there to help this family conquer and succeed.
“Their number one objective was to assure me that there was an open door policy, you can come and check on your children anytime that you want,” Delvyn said. “Not only that, they encouraged us to get involved with our child’s education and emphasized that we were our child’s first educators.”
Next Door Helps Boys and Dad
Delvyn enrolled his boys in Next Door’s Educare School when they were each three years old, and saw major transformations with each child. He said Cade was a shy student at first who didn’t want to interact much with his teachers and classmates.
“He started to be more open, he started to talk more with the teacher, he started to socialize with the children that were here and I just saw a dramatic change in his whole attitude,” Delvyn said.
Cyrus had speech issues – but they faded away as the Educare support system kicked in.
“When it came down to him not being able to pronounce certain things, they took their time with him and worked with him,” Delvyn said. “Before you knew it, the whole thing went out the door in regards to he needs a speech therapist.”
Delvyn’s life improved, too, as he became more involved his children’s education. He visited their classrooms, joined Next Door’s Parent Committee and participated in fatherhood events.
What came next was an unexpected surprise: a job offer to work full-time as a Fatherhood Specialist for Next Door. Delvyn accepted the role, and has done so well, his work garnered national attention in a PBS documentary from 2014.
Children: “Off the charts right now”
Today, Cyrus is in second grade and Cade is in fourth grade at Hope Caritas School in Milwaukee. Both have earned spots on the Honor Roll and “Student of the Month” awards.
“They are off the charts right now. I mean Cyrus is in second grade, he’s at a third grade reading level,” Delvyn said.
“I will tell you one area that Cade is strong in – Math! I mean his math scores are great and everything else is there.”
Outside of school, Cade created his own website called AskCadeHow.com. It includes video segments where Cade visits places around the Milwaukee area to learn how different things are made. Click on the link above and you’ll see Cade interviewing business owners.
Cade’s confidence and inquisitive nature showcase one more step forward for this family, who is now living in a condo in the Brown Deer area. They have come a long way since that chance encounter with a grandmother along Milwaukee’s Lakefront.
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