Columbia student makes a difference, one life at a time

By The Columbia Chronicle

Kimberly A. Brehm

Staff Writer

Can one person make a difference in a world filled with poverty? Carly Crone, a senior Columbia journalism student, believes that the answer is yes. Crone, 22, says she has always felt a need to help others. Her father tells her, “Carly, you can’t save the world.” But Crone believes otherwise. She tells her father, “It’s not about saving the world. It’s about making a difference in somebody’s life. Even if you can only help one person, it is worth the effort.”

Through a friend involved in the care group Concern, Crone has met a family in Chicago Heights who needs her help. The family consists of a single mother and her four children, ages 9 to 13. They live in a house, directly across from the Wentworth Projects, one of the most dangerous in the Chicago land area.

This mother is having a difficult time raising her children in an environment detrimental to their development. There are gangs, prostitutes and drugs right outside her front door. Three of her children are pre-adolescent boys, the prime targets for such activity. This mother is afraid to let her children go outside and play for fear harm will come their way.

Crone has spent a lot of time getting to know the family. She says, “Statistics cannot show you how difficult life can be for the poor. Instead, you must see it firsthand to understand and believe.”

Crone has come to care a great deal for this family and, in turn, for others like them. She has great respect for the single mother. Crone says, “This mother’s strength is beyond me. She gets through her life by her faith in God and love.”

When Crone visits the house in Chicago Heights, she sees the effort of someone trying to keep a clean, warm home despite a broken stove and refrigerator, and paint flaking off the walls. Though four children live here, there are no toys in sight. None of them own a bike and there is no yard to play in.

Crone believes that with other students’ help she can make a difference in this family’s life. She understands that there are many more families in similar situations, but she says, “You have to begin somewhere. Maybe by making this family stronger they will be able to help others and it will snowball into something much bigger.”

Crone is planning on initially helping by painting the family’s home and purchasing a new stove and refrigerator. She has gotten a pledge of financial aid from Columbia’s Student Life and Development Department. The director, Sharon Wilson, says her department is there to “assist students in community services.”

Crone is looking for other student volunteers to assist in several ways. She needs students to participate in a bake sale she is planning for the week of Oct. 26 in the Wabash building. The proceeds will used to purchase new appliances. Crone also needs others to paint the house Nov. 7 and 8. If neither job is appealing, Crone says she’s looking for students to provide an outing for the children or to donate meals for them.

Crone is not planning on abandoning this family after her initial work is done. She has many long-term goals, such as a bake sale in December to raise Christmas funds for the family. Crone promises, “I want to build a relationship with these children. I can take them to ball games and museums. I will be their mentor. After all, they deserve the same opportunities as anyone else.”