In many ways, Dee Lam is like most high school seniors in Montgomery County. She savors time after school with friends. She looks to the future eagerly and she is maybe just a little scared. But in other ways, Dee stands out from her peers because of some of the experiences she has endured: things like displacement, loss of her parents, homelessness and living in very meager circumstances.
None of these has made Dee bitter, angry or hopeless. She fully engages in opportunities at the YMCA Carroll Avenue Quebec Terrace (CAQT) community center in her neighborhood, and has become an valued and active member of the Y community.
In 2011, Dee came to the Y’s CAQT after-school program as a 7th grader. At the time, staff and students would have said she was shy. Staff tried to engage her, but she seemed most comfortable in the background of every activity. One thing was certain though, Dee always showed up. Every afternoon, hers was one of the first faces greeted by the staff. She never needed reminding about special activities. Whatever the time or place, she would be waiting.
As the years rolled by a profound change took place in Dee. The shy girl waiting outside the community center became the active volunteer and the organizer of activities for younger students. One thing that remained constant was her reliability. When summer came, the Y offered positions as mentors in a program called Common Ground, Dee was one of the first to apply. She got the job and served for two summers where she learned skills in leading games and assisting artists. Her confidence soared and she no longer stays in the shadows at CAQT. In fact, she is constantly urging others to have hope and to fulfill their dreams, just like she does. Relentlessly.
This month, the Y staff started a Go-Fund-Me campaign to support Dee, to cover the costs of things like senior portraits and the prom that are way outside of her means. The staff hopes to raise $800 so Dee can participate in all senior events including the prom. Dee is sure of one thing: her future will be bright, as bright as her smile. To contribute visit Dee’s Senior Prom Dream.