It has been TEN weeks since we last saw our Kids Hope students. The schools are now dark and unoccupied, the playgrounds are void of children running and playing, and the libraries, our favorite places, are eerily silent.
During “normal” school days, the library is where we met with our students for our weekly, one-hour visits. It is the place where we met one another for the very first time, where our friendship began and where we returned every week like clockwork for our time together. The round tables are where we sat were perfect for reading, solving math problems, and sharing a snack at the close of our meetings.
We miss our young friends! Are they able to manipulate the technology their schools provided to continue learning from a distance? Are their parents among the fortunate who are still employed? We hope so, but who is caring for the children while their parents are away? We pray they are safe and that they are getting ample and nutritious meals.
During this unusual time of being separated from the children, we have faith the relationships we share with them remain strong as ever. After all, they were nurtured over time and built on mutual respect, trust, caring, and LOVE. Even distance cannot undo such special bonds.
Until we can meet up again, we are staying in touch with our kids through letters and cards, phone calls, and text messages. Some mentors are sending care packages, books, and games to brighten their student’s days and to encourage learning.
And of course, ever present on our minds are those on the front lines in our schools’ classrooms – the teachers and the staff. Our celebration and gratitude for them and their life-changing work was reduced to a heartfelt gratitude letter, offers of help from afar, and a raincheck for our annual Teacher Appreciation Luncheon when the schools’ doors are again open.
There is one gesture, however, we have been fortunate to extend to our students’ families that perhaps means more than anything else we could do, and that is to offer an additional food source to help enable those who have lost jobs to feed their families. For that loving gesture, we have our First Street Methodist Mission to thank. Linda Murphy and her Mission team graciously welcomed not only our Kids Hope families but other families in need from our partner schools to visit the Mission once a month to receive a supply of healthy food.
As mentors to our young Kids Hope students, we are charged with making a positive difference in their lives. It is always surprising, though, the difference they make in ours!
We are reminded of the beauty of childhood and the truths we learn from a young age, many times from teachers. They are truths that follow us well into adulthood and that we pass on to our children. One such truth that we see exhibited by our students time and again and that we are now seeing all around us comes to us (paraphrased” from author Robert Fulghum in his time-honored book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten:
“And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.”