Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 16- Habitat for Humanity and Dalton Sherman

After skipping, hopping, and jumping all over the country for the holidays last year, I was simply excited to sleep in my own glorious bed.  That got me to thinking-- how could I try to begin to provide someone who doesn't have a bed to come home to with something like mine?

The answer today is an organization I have worked with a number of times in different capacities.  Habitat for Humanity has been providing people with a place to come home to for years.  They are a wonderful example of a group who helps people to help themselves.  They have a wealth of information on their website about how you can help out, and there are many volunteering and donation opportunities that don't involve straight up cash money at all.

Here's a great explanation from the website of the need.

Housing continues to be one of the most pressing problems facing families today. According to the St. Louis Housing Authority, there are over 5,000 people on the Section 8 waiting list, so many that the list has been closed for nearly a year.

In the past five years, there's been a 60% increase in families paying more than half of their income on housing, far beyond acceptable standards for housing costs vs. income. Many people caught in poverty are the "working poor". An extremely low-income family making 25 percent of the area's median income can afford monthly rent of no more than $500 while the fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit is $780. That means that a minimum wage worker, making $7.25 per hour, must work more than 90 hours per week to afford that two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.

Many families fall through the cracks and spiral downward, sometimes into desperate situations. Inadequate housing sets off a domino effect, leading to a multitude of problems, including school and work absenteeism and insufficient healthcare. It's no wonder that 1,000 families apply every year to Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis in an attempt to rectify a very basic need... a home.

St. Louis http://www.habitatstl.org/
National Organization http://www.habitat.org/

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As much as I love my job, it sure has been nice to have the last week and a half away from school.  The thought of break ending tomorrow inspires a knee jerk reaction of "Nooooooooo!  I don't want to go back.  Don't make me go baaaaaaaaaack!"  Isn't that what we learn to think and feel about going to school from an early age?

I'm sure that once I settle back into my routines, I will  be happy once more with going into my little room in my little corner of the world every day and trying to make a big kind of difference in my own little way.  Just in case I need a little inspiration myself, I looked up my old buddy Dalton Sherman.  I first saw this video a few years ago in a teaching class, and I have watched it a number of times since.  Dalton is incredible.  He says all of the right things to make this teacher's heart beat a little faster with the thoughts of what could be.  I hope he's a lobbyist for education when he grows up... and that he moves to Missouri and sends his kids to my school.



"...you better not give up on us. No, you better not.

Because, as you know, in some cases, you're all we've got. You're the ones who feed us, who wipe our tears, who hold our hands or hug us when we need it. You're the ones who love us when sometimes it feels like no else does – and when we need it the most.

Don't give up on my classmates.

Do you believe in your colleagues?

I hope so. They came to your school because they wanted to make a difference, too. Believe in them, trust them and lean on them when times get tough – and we all know, we kids can sometimes make it tough.

Am I right?
Can I get an Amen?

So, whether you're a counselor or a librarian, a teacher assistant or work in the front office, whether you serve up meals in the cafeteria or keep the halls clean, or whether you're a teacher or a principal, we need you!

Please, believe in your colleagues, and they'll believe in you.

Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe that what you're doing is shaping not just my generation, but that of my children – and my children's children?

There's probably easier ways to make a living, but I want to tell you, on behalf of all of the students, we need you. We need you now more than ever.

Believe in yourself."

Thank you, Dalton Sherman, you made my day.

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