This has been the most difficult week since I started MY Project USA. My mind is all over. I am trying to pull everyone and everything together , while keeping myself strong for my kids, coaches and families. It’s not easy, but some of you have helped significantly by reaching out, joining our conversations, sending donations and more.
Last Friday, July 22nd, we lost our sweet, caring, 15-year-old, Issa Jeylani to senseless gun/gang violence on the westside of Columbus, Ohio. Issa was one of the top U16 soccer players in the Central Ohio soccer world. He and his entire team were harassed, bullied and shot by some gangsters while they were simply playing in their own neighborhood. The entire neighborhood was terrorized by senseless shooting that night.
As a result, we are not only dealing with the loss of our dear Issa's life, but also a serious mental health crises in the form of trauma, shock and depression organization-wide. Our coaches are devastated. All of our tigers and their families are going through a lot as well. Many are not going to work or even getting out of their homes. Some are not going back to their homes because they are scared for their lives.
As always, we stepped up and stood by the Jeylani's family and took care of the cost of funeral, burial and other immediate support to the family in the form of supplies and food for people gathered at their home immediately after the incident.
In the past few days, I have sat down with all of my directors and administrators. Following are additional measures that are being taken care of or in progress in the aftermath of this incident:
- Referring all team members, staff and their families to external mental health professionals for therapy.
- Hiring a full-time mental health professional to provide services on daily basis.
- Upgrading safety measures at the youth center.
- Hiring of security guards/off-duty police officers for all outdoor practices and games
- Securing health & life coaches to work with most impacted individuals
- Organizing weekly events and more activities for all youths and families to relax their minds and provide them with more opportunities to do better
- Renting an indoor facility to provide a guarded space for youth to play safely in a rough neighborhood.
We have some of the money covered by a couple grants, but we need an additional estimated amount of $150,000 this year to cover the cost of security guards, police officers and other safety measures per year.
Currently, we have an active Facebook fundraiser going on to support the Jeylani family and other measures listed above. Thanks to the forty donors for their generous support in this very difficult time, we were able to cover the cost of burial and some incidental supplies following Issa's death. We still need help with the cost of his funeral and everything else listed above.
Please keep us in your prayers. Please pitch in whatever you can. Please also share widely in your circles and ask your friends and family to help us. Facebook takes care of the donation processing with no fees.
OTHER WAYS TO DONATE:
Pay By Check: Please make checks payable to MY Project USA and send them to P.O. Box 1311, Hilliard, OH 43026
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Venmo ID: MYProjectUSA
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you may have any questions or comments about your donations to MY Project USA
In Solidarity with Youth and Families,
Founder & Executive Director,
MY Project USA