On December 5, 2013, John M. Simmons, Director of Ele Lembra, and students from Program Chance met each other for the first time. For just over a year, both sides had admired each other from afar so the meeting was heartfelt and emotional.
Simmons’ wife, Amy, grew up in an abusive home until entering foster care (where things weren’t much better) at the age of fifteen. Simmons delivered a message from his wife to all of the students, that while they might not have had the family they wanted while growing up, that they could eventually have the family that they always wanted, though they wouldn’t be the child in that family. Amy Simmons provided a letter and a family photo of her own current family, the family she always wanted, for each of the students in Program Chance. Each was encouraged to work hard to be successful so that they could be the mama or papa in the family they always wanted.