Children enjoying themselves at Flying High in Countryside on January 14. (Supplied photo)
Venezuelan asylum seeking families enjoy a night out at Flying High in Countryside
By Carol McGowan
Twenty-three adults and 30 children of Venezuelan families seeking asylum enjoyed a fun night out on January 14 courtesy of Flying High in Countryside.
The event was a collaboration between St. Cletus Church in LaGrange, and Flying High, at 5400 East Avenue in Countryside.
Flying High opened their gym doors over 30 years ago, and has grown big time over the years.
Today, more than 1,500 students come through Flying High each week. They offer a wide variety of competitive and recreational programming, including gymnastics, tumbling, and a ninja zone.
They also offer birthday parties, open gyms, camps and special events.
Kendall Grant, director of Social Concerns at St. Cletus Parish, said about six months ago, St. Cletus was put in touch with 23 families seeking asylum that were place in a hotel shelter in their area.
The church has been supporting the families with weekly food assistance, fun outings, clothes and toys donations, as well as, some fellowship opportunities.
“Those who have been interested, have joined us for weekly Mass in Spanish, prayer opportunities, our Santa Brunch, and Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration.”
The help and support has not stopped there.
“Families are now beginning to transition out of emergency shelter and into housing. St. Cletus has taken the lead in organizing Welcome Packs for each family. This includes almost everything you need for a new home: bedding, towels, dishes, cleaning products, etc. Each Welcome Pack is valued at $600-$800. We are partnering with other area organizations such as D105, Nazareth Academy, the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. John of the Cross and St. Francis Xavier, to assist in this process,” said Grant.
“As the kids were starting to go a little stir crazy in the shelter over winter break, we were able to host them all for lunch and games, including a piñata, in the St. Cletus gym.”
Grant said Flying High was the perfect place to hold a private party, and when asked, they offered to not only host it, but to provide the food as well.
There was then the question of how to get everyone there.
Grant said it all came together with the help of Flying High and local elected officials.
Lyons Township Supervisor Christopher Getty made the transportation possible after hearing it was needed.
“Countryside Mayor, Sean McDermott, made the request for transportation on the groups behalf, and the Township was happy to assist by providing the Township busses and staffing.”
Through translation, the families shared their excitement on the evening.
“Thank you for this moment of making us all feel like children again; God Bless your work to give us tonight, such a beautiful and creative time for all the children; and, thank you for giving us such and exciting night with family and friends.”
“It turned out to be a wonderful evening,” said Grant.
“The event turned out great, and we thank everyone that was involved to make it happen. Parents and children enjoyed foam pits and rope walls together, and it was a carefree night of celebrating and good fun. We are so grateful for all that have helped host this event! As we all know, it can be difficult in the colder months to be stuck inside with young kids. We were excited to have the opportunity to let the kids run around and enjoy some normalcy together.”
Christine Deck and Laura Newman are co-owners of Flying High, and were happy to offer their services.
“A month or so before Christmas, we were thinking of those children,” said Deck.
“We were coming up with ideas on how we could help them, so when we were contacted, we were more than willing. We were so, so happy for those children to hang out and enjoy time together.”
For more info on Flying High, visit flyinghighgym.com
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