CHICAGO (CBS) — Maggie Daley had a huge impact on the lives of thousands and thousands of teens in the city, thanks to the After School Matters program.

It allows young people to explore what they’re passionate about, from science and sports to arts and communication.

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So many of those kids took the opportunity and ran with it.

Meghan Bestler literally found her voice — a love and a knack for opera.

“Here it was nice to finally feel welcomed (it was) something I could do with my life,” she told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman.

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The same goes for Howard McCullom. One ASM class led to another, until he learned fashion was his calling.

He has his own label and says Mrs. Daley gets some of the thanks.

Mary Kroeck, too, is one of the thousands of students that After School Matters touched. Now she shares her love of the stage — a love she cultivated in the program — with the next generation, as a teacher.

“I’m hoping to pass it on and have other kids carry that torch on and find their own lights as artists,” she said.

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Asked what they’d like to tell the Daleys, all three alums said the same thing: Thank you.