I'm a member of a women's community volunteer organization here in town, for those of you who aren't aware. Part of being a new member in this org requires you to do a project, locally. This project must include finding a need, coming up with a plan to help those in need, obtaining PR about org and our project and reaching out to area people/businesses to help with our project.
Last night, my group met and we were brainstorming project ideas. There are a couple of elementary teachers in my group, so we started talking about schools and wanting to focus on Middle Schoolers since many of them fall through the cracks. It seems like most people want to help out the younger kids (this is just my opinion...not factual:) But, seriously, most of the time I was sitting here listening to the stories these teachers told (both of them teach at or have taught at Title 1 schools...the low income schools) with my jaw on the floor. I mean, I grew up in this town and have lived here the majority of my life. Could I have been so naive and not seen the needs within my own community? I grew up in a happy little bubble where everything was roses with my home life and my friend's home lives. I made good grades and had two parents at home with me every night who were able to help me with my homework and give me baths and teach me how to take care of myself and it's importance. And, for these reasons, among many others, I have been blessed with a life for which I am very grateful. I realize now how lucky I was when I hear stories like these.
1. These Title 1 schools have washers and dryers so that teachers can wash their student's clothes. Many of the students continuously come to school in dirty clothes as I imagine their homes don't have these appliances and it can get very expensive washing your clothes in a laundromat if you don't have the money.
2. Some of the kids continuously have lice because of unclean living conditions. Although there is shampoo that will get rid of lice, their parents can't afford it.
3. There are kids that don't even have socks or have shoes that fit them. In gym, kids wear flip flops since those are usually just a couple of bucks. Or, they wear shoes that are too small, too big or shoes with holes.
I know that most of your are probably aware that this is a problem and I was too. I just thought it was in larger communities or those really small towns. I didn't really think this was going on in my mid-sized community of around 75,000 people. I've lived my life not leaving a radius of a couple of miles from my home. And, even within this small circle, there were areas I avoided because I had no need to go there.
So, I have decided that I'd like to volunteer some time with the lowest income school in my town and either tutor or become a mentor to one of those kids. I seriously believe it when teachers say that there are some kids who may only see one smile a day...and it's from their teacher. And, this just breaks my heart.
What are you doing to help those in need in your community? Prior to yesterday, I was doing nothing, so don't feel bad if you're in the same boat.