Several years ago, President George H.W. Bush started 1,000 Points of Light recognition. His belief was that if everyone would show compassion and ‘be a light’ that the world would be a better place. I agreed with him then and I agree with him now. I tell people from my vantage point as superintendent that I get to see great people that are making a difference for children. In Cumberland County where the need is so great, there are truly heroes in my eyes. They give and give and then give more. You have to be careful mentioning names, but at our Reading Rocks! Walk-a-thon for literacy there were over 24 agencies in attendance that provide services to our children.
The Women’s Giving Circle recently did a Scorecard Summary. The statistic showed that 61% of school age children are recipients of a free or reduced lunch. The government doesn’t like that term because the lunch does cost money. This year, we had a shift in population to schools that all students were eligible regardless of income. This shows that many of our families are one paycheck away from poverty. The report also showed that we had 811 students, or about 2 percent, of our children are homeless. Although we are doing well in general academically, the predictive nature of poverty is showing with some students and their poverty. When you believe as I do that all children have potential, I am the first to admit that it needs to be improved.
I would be discouraged if I didn’t know about the tremendous work of agencies on behalf of children. They just do it with minimal budgets, but with big hearts. We started the mentoring program because a group of us wanted to prove that something could be done. There are too many meetings with no results except to call another meeting.
I believe that it is time to develop a community plan for improving the lives of our children. We could start with the agencies that are already working on the problem. We could create a strategic plan that builds on their dedication and concern for our children. We could map where they make a difference. We could set goals of improvement in the areas that impact our children.
When I was growing up in San Diego, I listened to Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman. When a great play occurred, he would yell into the microphone, “You can a hang a star on it.” He was telling you that it made a difference in the game. I could go around the community and hang stars on agencies that truly are making a difference for children.
I would like the community to take the Women’s Giving Circle Scorecard and make a commitment to improve the status of children for improvement in all categories. I don’t care if it is a Thousand Points of Light or we ‘hang stars on it’. I believe that we can build on the great work of many of our agencies. We don’t need new groups or meetings, we need action. It is for the future of our community.
Dr. Frank Till
Published by Laurie Pender on November 1, 2015