Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Power of Community

Today I get to write about something encouraging.

A few months ago, one of my former students' families had a house fire.  Everyone in their family got out OK, but they lost everything.  EVERYTHING.

His fourth grade teacher who is still at the same school (I had him in third grade) found out and told me and our best volunteer ever about it.  Between the three of us and our friends, we managed to get the word out and get donations of furniture, clothing, gift cards, and money, people to move stuff (including two professional movers), and basically enough furnishings to fill up a 4 or 5 bedroom house.

When we were moving stuff in and since, the student's mom has expressed gratitude to me and the other teacher.  What I told her is what I'd like to share here: it wasn't me.  I can't speak for how the other two people got their donations but I just asked my friends.  My friends (and acquaintances, and in some case, friends of friends) just gave.  They gave furniture and clothing and money and time and gift cards to a family they had never met only because I said they needed help.

It still, even after seeing it happen before, astounds me that people would give (especially money) to people they didn't know, just because I said they were people I cared about.  It amazes me that people are willing to write checks to me, trusting that I'll use it for what the people I said I would and not for myself (don't worry, I did).

It's easy in teaching where I taught to get discouraged and assume that no one cares.  And I've seen plenty of examples where people actually don't care or think black/Latino/poor children or anyone who lives in a particular area are so different from the rest of us that it's easier to kind of dehumanize people sometimes than to do something to change inequality.

However, in this instance, I was encouraged, and reminded that I know some pretty awesome people.  

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