Thanksgiving Newsletter


I am thankful for:

Strolling through the doors of Chicago Hope Academy and down toward the main office, one may hear the voice of a woman greeting students with “Good morning, Sunshine” and “Hello, Beautiful.”  Full-time volunteer, Lissette Ortiz, is the parent of Jordan Gracia. She dedicates countless hours of hard work, compassionate care, and selfless devotion to Chicago Hope Academy.

“Hope has been a true blessing to me. Jordan and I were in a tough situation, and I truly believe God brought us to Hope. I have had three organ transplants and, over the past 16 years, with God’s grace, I am now restored to full health.During Jordan’s freshman year, I weighed 92 lbs. and was receiving blood transfusions every 3-4 days. I stopped in the office to speak with Jordan’s Discipleship Group leader, Ike Muzikowski. I needed to tell him I had to go to the Mayo Clinic for additional treatments. At this point, my outcome appeared grim. Ike stopped me mid-sentence and said, in his playful sarcasm, ‘What? You need a babysitter, go and get better, I got Jordan.’ I paused. I did not expect that but it gave me great comfort knowing I did not have to worry about my son. At that moment I realized I put my son in a school that goes beyond education, welcoming us in as a family. Ike has encouraged, challenged, and equipped Jordan to grow into a strong Christian man these last few years, and he holds a permanent seat at our dinner table.

Hope has shown love, compassion, and care to so many families. It is beautiful to see lives being transformed, boys growing into respectful young men and girls blossoming into strong young women. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities Hope has given to us.”

“I am really thankful for my teachers at Hope. Many of them serve as mother and father figures for students in need of guidance and support. I am also thankful for learning to have a spiritual walk with God from my DG leaders.

Because of my mother’s story, I have always aspired to become a surgeon. Through the help of my mentor, Ike Muzikowski, I have been able to fuel my passion for the medical field. I have participated in a junior medical program at Harvard for two years and I am going on my second year participating in a hands on medical program at Northwestern. This past summer, I was able to shadow the head of surgery at UIC and scrub in to observe first hand a liver transplant. I will forever cherish all of the opportunities that Hope has blessed me with and be eternally grateful for the family that I have made here. I hope that someday I can come back and give all that I can to a school that has poured so much into my life.”