Founded by Det. Wilson Pierce, HOME prepares students for life
by Katie Arvia
LANSING, Ill. (January 2018) – Helping Our Minors Excel (HOME) has been working with Lansing youth for nearly a decade. Founded in 2008 by Detective Wilson Pierce of the Lansing Police Department, HOME provides Lansing youth with various workshops, community service projects, and more.
HOME prepares students for life by implementing four cardinal principles:
A nonprofit organization, HOME is designed to mentor children ages 10–18.
While working as a juvenile detective at TF South High School, Pierce noticed a disconnect between the students from each middle school. Because TF South is made up of students from both Memorial Junior High School and Heritage Middle School, many of the students did not know each other.
“You’re putting two groups of people together that don’t really know each other; they don’t like each other but they don’t know why,” Pierce explained. “The only reason they don’t know why is because they don’t interact.”
In an effort to unite the students, Pierce put together an event called Middle School Madness. Students from both Memorial and Heritage participated in events such as a three-point shootout, tug-of-war, and relay races. Pierce said it worked out beautifully.
Since then, HOME has received the support of the school board, teachers, parents, Lansing Police Department, and even Mayor Eidam. The program has grown exponentially over the years, with plans to grow even more.
Last year, 60 kids participated in HOME’s third annual Shop with a Cop. Around Christmas, the children are given gift cards and go shopping with local police officers.
“The only stipulation we have with that is, [they] have to buy one gift for somebody else. Upon doing that, whatever [they] have left, [they] can use to buy themselves something,” Pierce said. “A lot of these kids end up spending the whole card on gifts for their parents.”
Walmart provides the shopping experience for HOME. Last year, an entire section of the store was set up just for the kids. Additionally, Walmart donated wrapping paper, cookies, and juice.
“Their employees as well as officers come out on their days off. People in the community will come out and they will help wrap the gifts. …The kids get to go home with them and put them under the tree,” Pierce said.
In addition to the annual Shop with a Cop, HOME provides a variety of workshops throughout the year. In the past, bullying, domestic abuse, and drugs have been topics of discussion presented by the states attorney. Channel 2 (CBS) and WGCI have presented workshops as well.
Kids who are a part of the HOME program also give back to the community. Since 2009 they have been collecting nonperishable food items for the Lansing Food Pantry. On average, HOME has donated 100 boxes of food to the pantry each year.
“We have what’s called ‘Pack the Pantry.’ Because Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together, the pantry is pretty much wiped out by the time Christmas comes,” Pierce explained. “It’s hard to restock in such a short time, so we took it upon ourselves to collect for Christmas.”
Because 2018 marks HOME’s 10-year anniversary, Pierce hopes to do something big and keep growing the program. Someday, Pierce hopes that HOME will become a national program, like GREAT (Gang Resistance Education And Training) or DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).
He encourages anyone who is interested in joining the HOME community to reach out, whether they are a kid or an adult. “Our doors are open to anybody who wants to be part of this organization. …We want to help any kid that needs it,” Pierce said. “Our foundation is to help anybody and everybody.”
Helping Our Minors Excel, Inc.
PO Box 922
Lansing IL 60438
Business hours are 8:00am–6:30pm M-F, 9:00am–2:00pm S-S