The organization Destiny Watson started while she was a student at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, YouMatter2, is in the process of creating care packages for 2020 graduates who have had their hopes for traditional ceremonies and celebrations disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s just a way to show appreciation and celebrate them during this hard time,” she said. “It’s another way to celebrate and be able to help them feel special.”
The care packages will include class of 2020 mugs, coupons and vouchers from local businesses and candy to comfort and celebrate graduates.
On Saturday, though, it was Watson’s turn to receive some appreciation.
She is among the graduates who has had their hopes and expectations disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused schools to close early and graduation ceremonies to be canceled.
The pandemic did not stop the celebration, though. Her family arranged for a parade of well-wishers to drive by their home in Glenwood on Saturday to give Watson a horn-honking, cheering party from the safety of their vehicles.
The now-popular method of celebration involves a line of cars driving slowly past the home of the person being feted, with shouted greetings, gift hand-offs, waves and posters expressing love and support.
Watson said she was delighted by the turnout.
“I didn’t expect to see so many people,” she said.
She is graduating from the University of Dayton, where she majored in human rights.
“It’s been kind of difficult to process not being able to be at school with my friends,” she said. “At end of the day, I’m excited I’m graduating. I put a lot of work in these four years at UD. I’m glad to be leaving my mark on the campus.”
One tangible mark she is leaving is recognition for a black Greek organization. She’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta.
“Going to a predominantly white campus, we don’t see much representation,” she said. “I was able to work with the university to push for us to get permanent representation.”
She plans to go on to graduate school to get a degree in non-profit organization administration. She plans to use her education to continue building YouMatter2.
“I want to expand it to open up a teen community center out here,” she said.
To sign up to receive one of the class of 2020 care packages, visit www.youmatter2.org/classof2020.
The organization is accepting donations to help with costs of the care packages and other projects.