What does working in the oncology department at Montefiore Medical Center, pursuing a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education, and event planning have in common? To former inner-city Catholic school student, Jessica Dalton, they are all directly related to her experience with Inner-City Scholarship Fund.
Inner-City’s sponsorship program finds sponsors for Catholic school students from low-income families whose parents are not able to cover the full cost of tuition. Jessica, a South Bronx native, began receiving tuition assistance from Inner-City in the 4th grade while attending Immaculate Conception Elementary School. The help she was provided allowed her to continue receiving a Catholic school education, which is often a beacon of hope for families in underserved inner-city communities. “It was a blessing,” she says, “and now that I’m in the workforce, I fully appreciate the opportunities my sponsors provided me.”
Each year in school, Jessica would write to her sponsors Bruce and Judy LaFranchi when she received her report card to update them on her progress. “At first, I felt like I was writing to a pen pal. It was a commitment,” she recalls. “But as I got older, it took on a different meaning. It became a very special relationship. I understood the purpose and how it was preparing me for adulthood.”
Today at 26, Jessica is committed to having a deep impact on others. “It’s great to receive kindness from others,” she says. “But it’s even greater to be of the mindset to give back.” And that is why she’s pursuing a career in early childhood education—so that she can impact another child’s life, and perhaps inspire that child to one day go to college and be in the workforce. It’s why she worked since high school in the social services department of Montefiore Medical Center. And it’s why she loves event planning, which she feels has a direct correlation to social services. “Event planning brings people together; it gathers families and friends.” Jessica may not have the finances at this moment to fund another child’s education, but as she says, giving back isn’t only about the money. It’s the hands-on work. So she finds the time between two jobs and getting her Master’s Degree to volunteer each week.
Realizing the impact her sponsors have made on her present circumstances, Jessica proclaims, “It takes just one person. I, too, want to be that one person to make a difference.”