Outstanding Alumni – Martina Harvey Harris
Martina Harvey Harris knew as a young teenager that everything about her life was already different. She and her older sister had been living with an uncle but when she was 13 years of age, she entered Cunningham’s foster care program. Cunningham staff made sure was taken care of and felt as comfortable as possible. Martina, herself, said, “They gave me unconditional support.”
Years later, at age 18, Martina began receiving services through Cunningham’s Independent Living program. For three years, she worked with her case manager, Chalaine Davis, who helped her learn self-sufficiency and independence while she and her daughter Jayla living on their own in the community.
In 2017, Martina had a desire to take classes at Parkland Junior College that would get her one step closer to an Associate’s degree in business administration and she reached out to Cunningham for help and thanks to our faithful donors, Cunningham was able to meet her need and covered her tuition and books for two classes. Martina was working full time and had a young daughter at home but she was determined!
“As I continued to chat with Martina, I just knew this young woman had an inspiring story to tell,” Ginger Mills, Director of Advancement, said. “Martina boldly looked me in the eye and said, ‘God doesn't make mistakes.’ At the time, Martina’s life had been full of obstacles and challenges but even throughout it all, she told me that God was for her, not against her. Her words blessed me that day.”
Since those Parkland days, Martina has come a long way. She works at the Housing Authority of Champaign County where she started as a program assistant for the YouthBuild Program – a community-based pre-apprenticeship program that provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24 who have previously dropped out of high school. And she has since been promoted to senior case manager.
In addition to her full-time career, Martina is enrolled in the REMAX real estate license program with hopes of becoming a licensed agent. She is also on schedule to earn Bachelor of Art degree in Business Administration from Eastern Illinois University in 2023.
Friend of Children - Papa John's
Giving back is important to the Papa John’s team.
“It gives our team a way to celebrate our successes and thank the community for their support,” Senior Director of Operations Jamie Cartwright said. “We make pizza, but we are men and women in our community with children and families of our own so we appreciate all we have and the opportunity to give should never be passed up.”
Their PAPARUN promotion gives customers 25 percent off when ordering online. Additionally, 10% of the proceeds from those orders support local non-profits in connection with the Illinois Marathon and Cunningham is one of the recipients of this generosity.
Jamie said he has love and admiration for children’s homes and organizations that support and life up children ever since he volunteered at a home while in high school.
“It was hard work and took me quite some time to understand just how important the work is for the kids, their families and our community,” Jamie said. “The team came in every day with nothing but hope and love.”
Papa John’s has helped Cunningham carry out amazing work with its annual donation through their partnership with the Illinois Marathon. Since 2018, Cunningham has received nearly $27,000 to help the youth and families Cunningham serves heal, learn and grow.
Jamie is eager to help Cunningham in other ways too. Just last summer, he nominated Cunningham for a grant that will provide funds earmarked to support Cunningham’s Cup of Hope Coffee Shop expansion and Cunningham received the award! Cup of Hope helps improve young people’s vocational skills including customer service, point of sale, inventory management, good work ethic, taking direction, seeing a project through from start to finish and most importantly, making a GOOD CUP of coffee.