LANSING, Mich. — You’ve probably heard the saying, “I am the change.” This week’s Good Neighbor takes that to heart. CeCi Bordayo wants to take the former McKinley Hall on Lansing’s Northside and turn it into a community center to help children all over the city.
CeCi says it’s needed.
"There is no community center on the north side. We have one on the south side, and we have one on the east side, but nothing over here on the north side targeting kids and youth. Imagine what that would look like if kids had a space to go to and be able to see a future outside of what they see daily."
CeCi’s mission is to help children. She says she was inspired by a teacher who showed her extra attention, and now she wants to pass that forward.
“There was a teacher who took interest in me. Mrs. Kelly Jacobs. One day after school, she asked my mom if she could spend some extra time with me. She told me how smart I am. And would say things like, “you are so good at this.” Just the thought of someone pouring love into me and giving me words of affirmation made all the difference. I remember growing up thinking I want to be like Miss Kelly Jacobs. I want to be someone that reminds a kid who they are, who they can be, and just spend time with them to let them know that whatever circumstance or dysfunction that they grew up with, they could become more.”
A few years ago, CeCi started volunteering her time to host after-school programs for kids in Lansing’s North End. Then, she added summer camps. The programs started to take off, so she began applying for grants to help with the costs.
CeCi’s vision is to expand her programs into this building – she is calling the pass-it-on community center.
“I questioned and asked myself what can I do to pass on to the next generation what was passed on to me. That’s how I came up with the title pass it on. What would it look like if we were to come alongside our own community and pass on to them opportunities, resources, experiences that most kids would never have access to? What would that look like if we pass so much to them and become community cultivators that invest in them, and they grow up to come back and invest in the same city?
CeCi isn’t letting the condition of the building get in the way of her vision of creating a safe space for kids to explore, learn and grow.
Eleven-year-old Paloma Mendez is one of CeCi's students.
“My dream is to have a business of my own," says Paloma. "What inspires me is my dad because he has his own business. And in my business, I want to be creative, and I want to be able to do like paint and stuff and do nice things for people.”
CeCi responds, “That's awesome! Imagine you have a space to go to create, you can develop and become the best business owner. Wouldn’t that be cool?
“That would be so cool," says Paloma.
Lisa Urdanteta sends her children to CeCi’s program.
“She is such a blessing and such a role model for these kids. I mean, she's so positive. I mean, if they're having a bad day at school or it’s just little kid stuff, she is always taking time with them.
Aiden Bordayo also attends CeCi’s program.
“She encourages me not to give up and just to keep on doing what I want to do. It's nice to have somebody tell you that you should do what you want, or you should be able to do whatever you want.
I think it's really cool because there's a lot of people out there who weren't able to have something like that. I think it's cool that I get the privilege to be able to do something like that.”
If you would like more information on the Pass-It-On Community Center or to help CeCi achieve her dream of expanding the program into the former McKinley Hall, you can visit the pass-it-on community center website at passitonlansing.org
CeCi, thank you for your dedication, encouragement, and tenacity to dream big and help change kid’s lives, especially those in Lansing’s North Side. You are this week’s Good Neighbor.
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