Remember when basketball legend LeBron James opened his “I Promise School” in 2018 to support vulnerable kids in Akron, Ohio and everyone wondered whether he could actually create change?
Some of the kids were living in poverty. Some were from broken homes. Some were deemed to have behavioural problems by the traditional school system.
Within a year, he did create change. The school was showing promising outcomes with kids posting better results and their families were being provided with food, clothing and a sense of belonging.
Now, LeBron’s stepped up his game, helping house students and their families who are experiencing homelessness or escaping violence.
“Initially our work was focused on helping these kids earn an education. But we’ve found that it is impossible to help them learn if they are struggling to survive – if they are hungry, if they have no heat in the freezing winter, if they live in fear for their safety,” LeBron says in a statement to Celebritykind.com.
So, in October last year, the LeBron James Family Foundation teamed up with Graduate Hotels to secure a building a few blocks away from the school that could provide transitional housing for those in need of safety.
After months of renovation including brand new windows, refinished floors, new plumbing, landscaping and painting – in the midst of a pandemic too mind you – the “I Promise Village” has now opened its doors and the first family has moved in.
A video of the difficult but clearly rewarding process has been shared on the foundation’s Instagram page and yes, you’ll definitely need some tissues for this:
“With 23 contract companies by our side & battling a pandemic…we poured our hearts into the last 6 months so our families could have a roof over their heads,” his foundation wrote in a Tweet, sharing photos of the new space:
Our journey with @Graduate_Hotels began in October to renovate this iconic piece of Akron architecture, built in 1923. With 23 contract companies by our side & battling a pandemic… we poured our hearts into the last 6 months so our families could have a roof over their heads. pic.twitter.com/LwmQsfL2QB
— LeBron James Family Foundation (@LJFamFoundation) July 22, 2020
“This is about more than just getting kids to school. This is about keeping them alive,” says Michele Campbell, the Executive Director of the foundation.
And that’s exactly what LeBron and his foundation are doing.
The families will live in the “I Promise Village” without any expense – no rent or utility payments. They’re served family meals several nights a week. They’ll learn how to harvest their own fruits and vegetables in a community garden. They’ll be able to take up sewing, cooking and home repair classes.
And the ultimate goal is to help them get back on their feet.