In this season of preparing for our Savior's birth, we share a story of hope from one of our own, Cory Hardin, pictured above with his family: (l-r) Quinn, AKea, Lakin, Cory, Rylann, and Teagan. In his role as guidance counselor, assistant football coach, club moderator for students in action, and previous member of the Cuvilly team, Cory has inspired many young people during his five years at CJ. In his giving, he has also received much more in return. It's a CJ story of comfort and joy made possible because of this community and you!
Dear CJ community;
You could say that 2020 has tested our resolve and challenged us in many ways. As a guidance counselor, coach, and club moderator, I’ve seen how our young people have adjusted to a new way of living and a new way of learning. Because of your support, CJ has created an atmosphere of hopefulness and opportunity long before this year’s challenges. Two young gentlemen quickly come to mind: Jon Bell ‘18 and Jake Hieatt ’20. Through determination and grit, they overcame adversity and share a story of hope.
I met Jon his sophomore year. He had a rough time ― tough living conditions and his parents were no longer part of his life. Because Jon attended CJ, programs were in place to help him succeed and a support team of teachers, counselors, and coaches became his family.
When I was asked to look after Jon, I didn't hesitate. I got to know Jon over the next three years and saw him progress. It truly became a father/son relationship. I remember taking him to a couple of college visits to just see if that was an avenue for him. I was definitely blessed by this young man. He taught me what hopefulness really means. Even though he had everything stacked against him; he was able to fight through it to overcome so much adversity, at such a young age.
“Coach Hardin was a big part of me getting through CJ. He did a lot of things that I didn't ever expect from anyone, like walking me across the field on my senior night. He was definitely more than just a coach for me; he was a father figure. He pushed me to be my best every day! He was always someone I could come to with any of my problems when I needed to get away and just talk. He never let me down. Having him as a coach and teacher was a blessing in disguise and made me the man I am today. I owe him so much.” – Jon Bell ‘18, graduate from Hobart School of Welding
It’s because of YOU and support to the CJ Annual Fund, that we can continue to be that light for each other.
I met Jake as a freshman on the football team. His home life was not ideal and his attitude prevented him from progressing as a player. Through many long talks at football practice and in the guidance office, I watched an amazing transformation. Jake humbled himself and matured. As a senior, he rejoined football, embraced the team spirit, and kept his grades up. When I presented his diploma last spring, it was a tender moment. Beaming with pride, I watched Jake walk across the stage with a huge smile. He made it and I got to cheer him on every step of the way.
“I honestly didn’t like Coach Hardin much at first. I had that ‘freshman mentality’ and I stepped away from football for a couple of years. Coach Hardin convinced me to come back my senior year. It was tough mentally and physically, but that was the best time of my life. The football guys are a family and we really bonded. I know I will have these friendships for life. Coach Hardin helped me persevere through some very tough times. His guidance office became my ‘safe place.’ His style is so comforting when you feel like the world is crashing in on you, he’d say – ‘let’s calm down and see what we can do.’ I wouldn’t have made it without him. I continue to stay in touch and I know Coach Hardin will always be part of my family." – Jake Hieatt ‘20, freshman at Walsh University
Along with Jon and Jake, CJ became a family for me. Over the years, your gifts have sustained a caring community that gives many people hope.
CJ gave me a chance. They hired and promoted me when other applicants were probably better equipped and better prepared. That’s the beauty of this community. You’re nurtured, given an opportunity to grow, and find a path that challenges you as a person. Jon and Jake showed me that there are so many reasons to have hope and continue on, even when life’s circumstances seem overwhelming.
In the midst of this ongoing pandemic, gifts of every size to the CJ Annual Fund bring hope. As part of our CJ alumni family, your support has allowed us to keep the family spirit strong as we’ve all learned to adapt and change to new ways of learning and living.
Let’s continue to stay United Together CJ!
Assistant Football Coach, Guidance Team, Students in Action Moderator