By Renee Ambroso | Photography by John Michael Simpson
Lindsay and Jazmin, co-leaders of Clover Creators 4-H Community Club in Chatham County, are colleagues at Virginia Cross Elementary School in Siler City where Lindsay is the school’s media specialist, and Jazmin works as the lead student support specialist for Communities in Schools of Chatham County. Jazmin was born in Mexico and moved to Siler City 18 years ago. Lindsay, who lives on a farm in Randolph County with her husband, two daughters and many pets, has worked in Chatham County Schools for 13 years.
Jazmin Mendoza Sosa and Lindsay Shore-Wright worked together over summer break in 2016, driving around Siler City’s neighborhoods in a bookmobile to pass out reading material, snacks and pencils to Virginia Cross students. Both were eager to provide extra support to local kids during the school year, so the pair decided to start the Clover Creators 4-H Club in 2017 with a common vision: create a bilingual and bicultural club where kids growing up in Siler City could form social bonds, feel appreciated and develop useful skills. Lindsay knew from her own experience – she’s been an active participant in 4-H since age 10 and was a member of the NC 4-H Honor Club – that the club could support kids in the community.
The group has thrived for four years under Jazmin and Lindsay’s leadership. “We have really good attendance,” Jazmin says. “We have parents who really want their kids to build that social capital.” Clover Creators have participated in a variety of 4-H activities at the county, district and state levels including activity days, a mock board of commissioners meeting and service projects. They’ve also painted benches at Bray Park and hosted a food drive benefiting the West Chatham Food Pantry. “We have picked up litter and helped at community events like Diá de los Libros,” Lindsay says.
Five club members were invited to the statewide 4-H competition in 2019 after earning either gold or silver at the district level for their presentations on a subject they were passionate about. “They worked hard for months to perfect their presentations and advance through different levels of competition,” Lindsay recalls. “Watching them compete in Raleigh at the state level was a fabulous experience.”
Lindsay schedules the club’s semimonthly meetups with Jazmin over email during their busy school days. “Each school day is stressful, exhausting and alot of fun,” Lindsay says. She finds time among the seven media classes she teachesto connect with Jazmin to plan activities for the club. “Before [the pandemic], we met at First Baptist Church of Siler City,” Lindsay explains. “Their hospitality has been critical to us having a safe place to meet and grow our club.” These days, Jazmin and Lindsay lead a fun craft over Zoom each month for their members, providing any materials they might need. Though they have relaxed, age-appropriate activities for each meeting, Jazmin says they have bigger goals in mind. “This year, we are going to focus on budgeting,” she says. “… We hope to have speakers and hope to build some financial literacy.”
Clover Creators is family-oriented, and parents are required to participate alongside their kids.
Jazmin often facilitates communication with parents alongside her day job as the student support specialist for Communities in Schools of Chatham County. Any free time outside these roles is spent mentoring high schoolers who aspire to become first- generation college students, an undertaking close to her heart. Jazmin was the first person in her family to graduate from college when she earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Meredith College.
Lindsay and Jazmin’s dedication to serving their students was recognized by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners in a meeting on April 20, 2020, and both women received the Chatham County Outstanding Volunteer Award as well as the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award certificate from the NC Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service.
What makes their efforts truly rewarding, they say, is the difference they can see in students’ self-esteem. “It’s really worth it when [the students] believe that other adults care about them,” Jazmin says. Lindsay agrees. “I try to be present and stable for our young people,” she says, to “show them how loved and worthy they are with my actions.”