Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Little Help Can Go A Long Way

A child living in poverty suffers in many ways.  Their house may have no heat or running water.  The refrigerator may be empty and there may be no electricity.  But these hardships usually remain private.  When that same child goes to school, however, their situation becomes more evident to others.  Their classmates can see the holes in their shoes, how they never have the required gym uniform or that they’ve worn the same dress three times in one week.  These publicly embarrassing situations can have a terrible impact on the child’s self esteem.

Mount Vernon’s public and private institutions offer food, rental subsidies and other forms of assistance to needy children but most are not designed to provide smaller financial contributions to the child who can’t afford art supplies or a new lens for their glasses.  That is why we have formed "Alice’s Kids."

I can personally attest to how a little help can improve one’s self esteem.  For years, my family received a monthly welfare check that paid for food, rent and little more.  So, I often wore the same dirty clothes to school, missed the class field trip or quit the baseball team after my glove had been stolen.  But I also remember the exhilarating feeling of getting onto the school bus in a freshly cleaned cotton shirt or carrying a new "Superman" notebook after my mother – Alice – somehow found some extra cash to spend on my siblings and me.

Alice is now gone, but Alice’s Kids will help children with the same needs.

Children with healthy self esteem feel good about themselves.  They do better in school.  They are more successful.  Working with referrals from school staff, non-profit organizations, government workers and churches, Alice’s Kids hopes to make that child feel a little better about him or herself.

A little help can indeed go a long way.       

Ron Fitzsimmons
President and Executive Director