Volunteering, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:26am


So here’s something happy.

Back in 2015 I watched all of The Wire, and decided I needed to volunteer in a challenged school district. As my son told me later, such a white person thing to do. But, good acts may rescue poor intentions.

In any case, early this year I finally organized the paperwork to work in one of our local grammar schools. It’s just down the street from me, but serves a nearby community made up primarily of Latin American immigrants. Spanish is the first language, English the second. The school underperforms the California metrics by a large margin, and California has poor public schools to begin with, due to Proposition 13. Passed in 1978, Prop 13 means that here, in some of the richest neighborhoods in the country, our property taxes can be extraordinarily low. During a 30-year period where house prices might increase eight-fold, property taxes might only triple. Without property tax revenue, schools are comparatively poor.

That’s not the happy part.

I asked to teach reading to younger kids. I found myself in a classroom of first graders. They had been taught to read in Spanish. They were good at it. They’d learned, on their own to speak English. They were pretty good at that too. Starting in second grade, the district has no money for bilingual education, so they will switch to reading in English only. The teacher was also a native Spanish speaker, with 20 years experience. Very good at her job.

I was there to help prepare for transition. It’s so easy to attach to children at that age. The sweetness of their faces, their brushed hair, the little cheeks to hold oneself back from pinching. I have to bite my teeth together when I’m around cute small children, they are so delicious. In full disclosure, sometimes I was annoyed at the commitment.

I spent two hours, two afternoons per week, sitting at a table with four kids at once. Ten to twelve minutes a session, so everyone in the class got a turn. So little time. But we reviewed word lists, wrote stories, told stories, drew pictures, labelled pictures, talked.

Took me a while to learn all their names. Old brain meet 24 kids. So it became kind of a game, they would rush in from the playground and crowd around my little low u-shaped table, saying, “Miss Lisa, what’s my name?” “And me?”

I don’t want to get too sentimental about this, or distort my importance in any way.

One week it was really warm. The classrooms are trailers, without air conditioning. Anyway, one day, maybe 15 minutes into our class time, the teacher looked at me and said, “We can’t do this. It’s too hot. Let’s go outside.”

So out we went. Luckily, there’s a small playground in the front of the school with a lawn and trees. First I read the kids a book. Do any of you know the Henry and Mudge series? Very cute. Then we just let them play. You could see them, free and at the same time well-behaved, teaching themselves all sorts of things.

One group played tag, working out a game with rules and exploring social dominance. One group followed a caterpillar around, wondering where it came from, chiding those who wanted to experiment with bug squishing. Three boys played the whole time on the push roundabout, only they didn’t push it and they didn’t go round.

When the time came to go back to class, I gathered up the boys at the roundabout. “Miss Lisa,” one said, “We are talking about how we could make a fountain!” They’d dug a moat, and were thinking about how they might run a hose through it, if they had a hose.

I did say to them, “You are engineers!” We did talk about being fountain designers. It’s hard not to want to give kids glimpses into the worlds they might enter. But you can’t marry yourself to outcomes or feel special for what you do.  Just walk along next to three little boys, chatting on a hot day, following a line painted on the walkway. Try not to get a sunburned head. I did learn their names.

If you are in any position to do so, go help someone this year. You might have ulterior motives, you might make mistakes, but if you stay close enough to see that is the best I know about good.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

34 Comments

  • Your volunteering is very noble and I do think that working with children is very rewarding…the school system here is run on a shoe string budget and despite the dedicated teachers and staff schools desperately need volunteers like yourself to enrich the students experience. Well done!

    06/11/16
    2:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Thank you! You of course had your whole career helping kids!

  • That is very noble thing,as Hostess said better than me! I am so glad to hear it. It is so generous to give one’s time.
    I did some volunteering about youth violence and mobbing,a couple of years ago,with students,teachers and parents. I liked it very much,and I was volunteering regularily a lot when I have begun working. Volunteering is at the beginning here,so it is hard to find something you like and needs are not quite recognized yet. But,we are working on it.
    Reading with children or working in the library would be perfect.
    I have found something about taxes and schools here that I didn’t know,too. Thank you
    We still have very good primary schools,almost all of them are state or town owned and despite certain lack of finances,education is very good.
    One has to be thankfull (but,as it is,we are never quite satisfied :-))
    Dottoressa

    06/11/16
    2:40 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Your type of government certainly does well with fairness in education. BTW, I don’t feel noble in the slightest:). I get as much out of it as the kids do, I’m sure. Probably more.

  • Will you be with the same children again next year, or is the transition year your niche? It’s interesting to hear how that is handled in the particular school where you are.

    I have a volunteer gig working with some Spanish-speaking moms on whatever educational need they have. Some years it might be studying for the GED. It always involves English. My favorite right now is teaching math (first grade level) to a delightful mother of 3. Other people are working with her on reading and writing. This happens where the children are going to school, so I get to see them, too. But I tried and found that I enjoy the motivation of the adults.

    06/11/16
    2:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Cathy, And as is pointed out below, all age levels can use the support. I think it’s really important to find that which gives you happiness too, otherwise it’s kind of too easy to quit. I will stay with this teacher, if she moves up with the kids, so will I. BTW, the school didn’t place me – I gave my name to the administration and the teacher herself said, “HA! just what I needed:)”

  • This wonderful! There is so much need for volunteer help in all the schools. Very generous of you and I am sure you will in the end feel enriched for having done it.

    06/11/16
    2:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, I absolutely feel enriched, that’s a good way to put it.

  • We have an absolutely amazing organization here in NYC called New York Cares, which pairs volunteers with projects. Minimal time commitment, flexible schedules, wide range of opportunities: kids, seniors, animals, hunger, environment… I agree that it is important not to overestimate one’s own importance or impact. At the same time, I’ve had friends ask, “But, does what you do as a volunteer really make a difference?” My answer: “Imagine the world we could live in if everyone with your attitude took 3 hours out of their week to give back a little.” :)

    06/11/16
    2:52 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Olivia, Yours is an excellent answer. And bravo NYC I heart you all the more.

  • Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Thank you, Lisa.

    06/11/16
    2:57 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Drew, :). You are so welcome.

  • This finely-wrought gem of an essay just goes to proove that you should keep a keen eye on the development of that book you’ve talked about writing, seriously.

    06/11/16
    2:57 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Flo, xoxoxox

  • Bravo to you and what fun. I’ve always wanted to work in a soup kitchen. I’ll give it a try as soon as I get over some health issues. I always wanted to be a waitress in a diner. High ambitions!

    06/11/16
    3:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sandra Sallin, Oh man you’d be a big draw in the soup kitchen. So warm and entertaining. I hope you feel better soon!

  • Brava, Lisa. I used to volunteer at my children’s school when they were little. First in the classroom then the library. Loved that time.

    06/11/16
    3:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, <3

  • I volunteered at a school not far from me. The children are almost all from immigrant families, but not all from the same area. I worked on reading with second graders. It is important not to take oneself too seriously, and yet there is a joy when a child runs up to you a year later and remembers reading together, and a joy in just being there, week-in and week out.

    This past year I helped middle school children in another poorly performing school with math, but only until Christmas. Then I had bronchitis and I never got back. I think these little things are probably some of the best things I’ve done, not that it had anything to do with me, or the subject, just that someone took time. Anyone.

    06/11/16
    3:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, Our feelings are extremely closely aligned.

  • This post was uplifting…everything about it was positive. I grew up an immigrant child and appreciate the kindness from teachers and volunteers. There were mean kids who made fun of my clothes and look. At the time, I felt shame but looking back, it made me closer with my siblings because they became my friends and per parents’ directive, we studied and worked hard. Thank you for volunteering.

    06/11/16
    3:04 pm
    Lisa said...

    @t, Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming here and letting us all hear your experience. And I hope every iota of shame is now gone, as you must understand that you and your “different” clothes and look are making America as much as me and all my navy blue. That’s the point. Again, thank you.

  • I love this post! So well-written. You avoid the pitfalls of sentimentality but without shortchanging the delights of working with young children — your precise observation of telling details, I think, does the trick, and your self-reflexivity and natural modesty. You’re so careful not to take too much credit, but I think you might, really! Sounds as if the kids do, though, and that’s probably the most important.
    I’ve been waiting until we’re settled in the city, and torn between whether I’d like to work in one of the needier schools or on adult literacy or in hospice care. Your post is a gentle and inspiring push, thank you.

    06/11/16
    3:13 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Oh thank you very much. And I am sure the right opportunity to volunteer will find you – whatever satisfies you most.

  • Dear Lisa, I know I am stepping on a landmine here, but please don’t blame Prop 13. In California the schools are funded first before anything else. It is the law! California spends more money per student than almost any other state. Money is not the problem. Every school gets exactly the same amount of money per student.

    Schools in affluent areas often have amenities paid for directly by the parents or by the developers who built the homes. Our son’s state-of-the-art Cultural Arts Center was paid for by donations from 20 years of local fund-raising. We even raised money from relatives who lived outside our area because they believed that education is important.

    My mother was an elementary school teacher who taught in mostly “lower economic” areas. Yes, language is a problem but so is parental involvement and encouragement. If the parents are working AND / OR are not educated themselves, it is difficult for students to be motivated for success.

    There is also the issue of culture. Some cultures are highly motivated for academic success – Chinese, Japanese, and Korean for instances. Other cultures not as much.

    Yes, it a very “White Thing” for you to volunteer. That comes from our WASP background of sacrifice for others. Keep it up as long as you can. Some of the children will no doubt benefit.

    If you think the school needs more money, start fundraising.

    Best wishes, Charlotte

    06/11/16
    2:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, I have to disagree with you about the facts on California public school spending. As of the latest numbers available in January 2015, the good news was that we are no longer the LOWEST of all states in per student funding. https://edsource.org/2015/report-state-no-longer-at-bottom-in-spending/72410 Education Week awarded us a grade of D+.

    I also caution anyone about how they discuss the “culture” of poverty or lack of privilege. We cannot know what we cannot know, and as a result, must opt for as much as kindness as is humanly, societally, and economically possible. This is a deeply held, and immutable value of mine. It is not a universal belief.

    06/11/16
    3:22 pm
    Anon said...

    Charlotte has not said anything wrong. There are plenty of academic studies to back up the FACT that the role of parents is the largest factor of why higher socioeconomic groups have more success.

    It’s an intricate set of reasons why there are different parenting styles attached to different socioeconomic groups. And it is a legitimate field of study.

    If we can’t “know”, then what on earth are all the studies about? I know of one researcher who said something to the effect of “Show me the socioeconomic level of a seven-year-old child and I’ll tell you how likely he is to succeed in life.”

    Should you chance to read any of these studies, you might find them quite interesting. I dare say, you will even recognize your own socioeconomic group as described.

    These studies are very careful not to assign “value” or “blame”. Some methods of lower income child raising are of value, particularly their greater emphasis on unstructured play time. However, in our society, those methods tend not to be rewarded with status positions later on.

    06/11/16
    3:28 pm
    Lisa said...

    Anon,

    I don’t doubt the effect of family socioeconomic levels. I do worry about using culture as an excuse not to fund.

    As I said below, I don’t discuss politics here because a) I am not an economics expert b) things heat up so quickly. I’d really like to take this discussion elsewhere, Twitter for example, where heated debate is common.

    I wanted to tell a story of volunteering. California per-student spending is very low as compared to the nation’s average. Perhaps I should have left it there, but truly, it did not occur to me that people would argue about Prop 13’s effect. I guess I should have known:).

    Can I ask, please, if you’d like to weigh in on the effects of Prop 13, to come talk on Twitter? @amidprivilege will find me.

  • Not to get too Wonky, but California is below the national average in per student spending. http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html
    It’s hard to know about these comparisons, because states often avoid reporting spending in nationally consistent ways. I got sicked back into Sunday school this year and share the gratification that comes from getting to know kids and teaching them things that matter to me. Didn’t somebody famous write a book about how it takes a village to raise a child?

    06/11/16
    3:15 pm
    Lisa said...

    @RoseG, Yeah. A village:). And I think Sunday schools are a wonderful tradition, I suppose in a way my volunteering has been the Sunday school of an atheist. It has on occasion felt holy – I don’t mean me, I mean the children.

  • It just doesn’t get any better than this!

  • Well Lisa, If Prop 13 were repealed YOUR property taxes would go up. If you think money is the answer, why don’t you just put your little calculator into action, figure what YOU should be paying and donate that to the school each year.

    “Put your money where your mouth is.” That is a deeply held and immutable value of MINE.

    :) Charlotte

    06/11/16
    3:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, Yes, I know my property taxes would go up. I support that. But, to support my values in the system as it now stands, I’ve got more time than money at the moment, so that’s what I’m giving by volunteering. And, if I calculate by what I used to earn, hmm, per hour basis, for a school year, it’s OK. I could always do better.

    We’ve all got our values. I think it’s important to be able to communicate them to each other, even when they differ.

    06/11/16
    3:11 pm
    Anon said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, This is getting heated, but I have to say, as a method of funding schools, I hate property taxes.

    There has to be some other funding method that isn’t tied to housing. My God, considering that California has some of the most expensive housing in the country, how can people afford to pay even more?

    I don’t know the history, but perhaps the issue of relief is why Prop 13 was passed?

    Many families can’t afford any house. How about the families who can afford a house, but only barely? Must they be even more financially destabilized?

    I think taxing something that’s as basic as the need for shelter is wrong. So many family farms have been lost due to taxes. We forget that taxation has the power to destroy if we go overboard.

    06/11/16
    3:19 pm
    Lisa said...

    Anon, I don’t know how schools should be funded, per se, housing is expensive here. Our economy has exploded with new wealth. I myself would pay the property taxes, because I can. That is all I can say in an non-ignorant way;).

    I prefer that we don’t discuss politics here, because a) I am not policy-skilled and b) it’s so hard to keep the discussion civil.

    If the thread continues and heats up, the only thing I know how to do is to delete all the political comments on the post. Let’s cross our fingers it won’t be necessary.

  • Please don’t get me wrong. Keep volunteering. More people have been helped and enlightened over the course of human history by volunteers than by paid government employees.

    And, don’t knock Prop 13. It was created to keep people, especially those of us on fixed incomes, from losing their homes due to rising property taxes. If your house has increased in value by 50% in the last 11 years, then your taxes increase by nearly 50%. Seriously, could you, would you, support that?

    06/11/16
    5:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, Yes, I could and I would. Of course, I’ve been in this house for 30 years, so my taxes are low. I think you and I have different core political views, and in my experience, those don’t change without significant and dramatic personal experience. So, how about we assume that we share an aesthetic, an age group, a love of candles and leave it at that? Deal?

  • Lisa – I simply love this story!

    06/12/16
    9:57 am
    Lisa said...

    @K-Line, :)

  • Dear Lisa,

    Well, I could tell from Day One that you and I had very different political beliefs. Isn’t it interesting that we have so many other similar views, yet, at some pivotal point in time, we diverged.

    However, you have a terrific blog and an interesting following, so, deal!

    Best wishes, Charlotte

    06/12/16
    9:58 am
    Lisa said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, Shaking hands!

  • Our schools here in BC rely on volunteers and parent involvement including fundraising and the children benefit directly from these actions. Your energy and actions are indeed wanted and so needed…and a political bill cannot replace a kind and gentle helper who gives of her own time asking nothing in return…and the kids will remember you!

    I am volunteering on a completely different area now that I am retired…I am helping with the fundraising at the seniors centre that I attend…so I have gone from the youngsters to the aging seniors!

    Volunteering at our age has been referred to as grey power in action!

    06/12/16
    10:00 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, That’s great that you volunteer with seniors. It’s interesting, you worked with kids, as a librarian, and now you want to do something different. I totally get it. I wouldn’t want to fund raise because it would be too much like my old job:).

  • I leaped in to answer this immediately, but for some reason either my computer or the website was wonky, and that was a good thing, because iIhave been thinking about this all day (always a good thing)

    I have been tutoring English Language Learners for the last several years (75% are Somali women, the remainder are Somali men, other Africans, Latino…all adults), twice a week, 4-6 hours a week in total. I did this once before, when my children were young; then the students were all Hmong, newly arrived from refugee camps, as are many of the Somalis today. It is something I loved doing in the 80’s, and I always knew that I would return to it when I retired.

    And yes, it may well be a “white lady thing”, although a third of our tutors are men, and a sizable number of them are college students of many ethnicities and genders.. And that’s okay, because this is the demographic who has the time and the skills to do this. And indeed it is all about “Privilege”:

    It is my privilege as a white lady with a good education and the time in my retirement (without the constraints of inadequate income and the need for a retirement income) that allows me to do this. Not everyone who might like to do this is able; I am. It was my privilege that gave me that education, it is that privilege that give my husband ( who was born without the advantages I had) the ability and opportunity to do various volunteer gigs today.

    In a very different sense of the word, I feel privileged that I have the opportunity to do this. There is never a day that I don’t leave feeling that I have gotten as much from the day as my students have. It has stretched my mind (finding new ways to explain the logic behind irregular negative verbs in the past tense would probably challenge most of us) but more importantly it has expanded my cultural consciousness enormously. There is an indescribable reward in finding that the woman that you taught to figure percentages last week was able to successfully renegotiate her subsidized rent, not only for herself but for several of her friends who had received unwarranted rent increases.

    This is not “noble”; noble involves dying for a cause, sacrificing myself for others. This is more along the lines of doing one little thing that I can do. It makes me happy, it makes me smarter, I have made new friends, I understand a new culture far better than I could from readinag about it in the newspaper. It makes me a better part of my larger community.

    I was raised to believe that with the privilege into which I was born comes an obligation to contribute. I am not sure that I am meeting this obligation because I am still gaining more than I can possibly give. I am the fortunate one, as are you.

    06/12/16
    10:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ellen, I believe as you do. We have very similar backgrounds. We aren’t enough to count as data yet;), but perhaps we can posit the hypothesis that our shared culture insists that privilege brings the obligation to contribute.

    And I can’t thank you enough for your demonstrated commitment to volunteering. The work you do will have an impact, as you say, on you and the people you work with. I also believe it has ripple effects of all kinds on our larger society.

  • Volunteering really is rewarding! It sounds it was a great experience for you and the kids!

    I have been a reading partner for two years, and it’s a very enjoyable experience. The first year I was with second graders, and it was easy; they were just so excited and loved whatever we did. This year I was with fourth graders, and they were a bit more challenging… :) But it was still a good experience!

    Andrea
    Andrea’s Wellness Notes

    06/12/16
    10:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @Andrea@WellnessNotes, I know, it is kind of taking the easy route to teach first graders;). If I get good at this I may get braver and try to work with the older kids too. Good for you, chipping in.

  • Thank you for volunteering, especially right now when your hands are so full, and your time and mind so preoccupied.
    My mother started and volunteered in an after school homework program for kids whose parents worked full time and didn’t get the parental supervision and help at home because of time constraints. I always loved it that she did that.

    06/12/16
    10:09 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, Wow. Your mom left a wonderful legacy. And I admit, I missed 2 weeks when we moved my mother, what with the travel to Santa Barbara and the time I had to spend with her in her new living environment. But I was determined to get back before the last day of school and say goodbye to them, as I had promised I would return.

  • What a wonderful thing for your mother to have done, Kathy! Lisa, I remember the Henry and Mudge books well. And good for you for helping out in this way. Even in our well-funded (but very economically mixed) public school district, there is only one teacher, or a teacher and an aide, for about 20 kids. Not nearly enough in the early grades. At least the classrooms are in buildings. It’s sad that some kids have to go to school in trailers.

    06/12/16
    10:11 am
    Lisa said...

    @Marie, Trailers are very, very common here. And it was 1 teacher for 24 children – volunteers are the only aides:(.

    06/13/16
    2:10 pm
    Kathy said...

    Thanks Marie. My parents did a lot for education, it was their thing for sure.

  • So great to hear you volunteered! Sounds like a really meaningful experience.

    Just recently I learned that our local public schools have such little funding that school lunches are basically microwave meals – they don’t have a budget for real food or cooking. Ugh. This is one of many issues I care about – though I have recently been thinking of volunteering at the local humane society because I love dogs but we probably shouldn’t get one right now :)

    I really appreciate your generous world view, especially towards those less fortunate than you. I spent this weekend with my in-laws, who are quite poor, and it’s hard not to judge them for their circumstances – which logically I know are a mix of many factors, including social/economic systems, as well as personal choices. I was raised so differently. It’s interesting, how even my husband is so different from his sister – they were raised in the same setting, but as a result of birth order and personal differences, are quite opposite in many ways. So I’m sure even in the immigrant group you’re working with, there’s a wide range of diversity.

    Anyway. Thanks again for your generosity, in deeds and words.

    06/12/16
    10:16 am
    Lisa said...

    @Danielle, There’s a very wide range of all kinds of factors, native ability with symbolic processing, family structure, temperament, father’s employment, so hard to say exactly what causes what. That’s why I try again to just be tolerant and generous as best I can. I don’t know enough to be otherwise.

    06/12/16
    6:51 pm
    Danielle said...

    I’m somewhat in awe of your tolerance and generosity. If it really does comes naturally, as you say, that is wonderful. Embarrassing to admit, my natural inclination is often towards self-preservation or selfishness (depending on your perspective). Generosity is often something I have to train myself to do/be. it’s not easy but I’m learning and aiming to keep a balance.

    06/13/16
    8:38 am
    Lisa said...

    No awe is due;). The generosity is temperamental – the good side of impulsiveness, I think. The tolerance requires a lot of self-monitoring and discussion, which, here on the blog, I have time and mental space for. Also, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten calmer, somewhat. That helps. <3

  • It’s fine to help 20 or 30 kids. It might help more to change the system. Prop 13 was passed to help homeowners. Who has been “helped” the most? Corporations. It would help the schools A LOT if corporations were exempted from the tax protections of Prop 13.

    06/12/16
    9:11 am
    Wendelah said...

    @AK, Hear, hear! People eventually move. Corporations tend to stay put, and even when their property changes hands, they take advantage of loopholes to avoid paying taxes altogether. We need to close those loopholes so that corporations pay their fair share. http://closetheloophole.com/history

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here but Lisa is right to say that California schools are drastically underfunded. And she is right to blame Prop 13. My mother and father (age 90 and 94, respectively) are both retired California teachers. They will confirm that the schools in California have never been the same. Even if every single classroom had someone as wonderful as Lisa putting in volunteer hours every single day, it wouldn’t be enough to fix a broken system. That doesn’t mean that volunteering in a classroom (or in a hospital, or a prison) is a bad idea. But it won’t fix the underlying problem of not enough money. California has the most students in the nation who are English learners and we have the highest rate of poverty in the nation. Research shows that educating English learners and students from poor families requires an even greater investment. We should be spending more money than other states, not less. We should be number one in educational spending, not hovering around the bottom ten percent.

    Sorry if this is too political, Lisa, but by waving the Prop 13 flag, didn’t you invite that discussion? It seems a bit disingenuous to have a blog entitled “Privilege” while at the same time declining to allow discussion of the political implications of that privilege. But–it’s your blog–your choice. Delete at will!

    06/12/16
    10:22 am
    Lisa said...

    @Wendelah, You are commenting with civility. I am trying to leave this thread up:). I’ve already had an email in which someone wanted to unsubscribe because my privilege is so annoying.

    The ridiculous thing is that I didn’t even realize that Prop 13 was a flag of any sort. I thought we all agreed it had decreased school funding, but, due to a number of factors, the majority didn’t want to undo it.

    So, in terms of your comment, I would suggest that (at least here as I would not presume to offer any other kind of suggestions) you consider how you see corporations, just as I suggest to others that they discuss the child-raising practices of other cultures carefully. Corporations are made up of people. And all corporations are not the same, they are not all evil.

    Again, this is why I don’t discuss politics. We believe as we do in part because of deeply felt emotional realities, and little changes our opinions other than what we experience ourselves.

    But I’m trying to leave this up, having, as you point out, started it. My blindness to controversy isn’t a good excuse.

  • We may have gotten a bit off- topic. First of all, congratulations for getting involved in your community. It’s not a “white thing.” It’s not just schools. Many people of many races and ethnicities give time, effort and, when possible, money to their communities. I’m retired now andI know I could do more.
    I live in a township of @24,000 residents with a per capita annual income of over $50,000. And yet, the township food pantry is always looking for donations of food, money and time, mostly for elderly residents. Many food pantries also take pet food donations.
    Pet rescues and shelters need help too.
    Our local library has wonderful volunteers who teach adults to speak English and how to read, handle the annual book sale and take books to assisted living centers among other activities. Speaking Russian or Chinese is an advantage.
    After all, there’s no real point to using tinted moisturizer and eyebrow pencil and developing a personal style if we’re not going to leave the house.

    06/12/16
    10:23 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mary, Yes. Off topic. I’m trying to hang in there. Good points, across the board, on the value of volunteering. And,

    “After all, there’s no real point to using tinted moisturizer and eyebrow pencil and developing a personal style if we’re not going to leave the house.”

    yes.

  • Lovely post, Lisa. I won’t wade into the discussion of education and politics… mostly because as a Canadian I don’t understand American politics… except as pure theatre… which I certainly know it isn’t for those who are affected.
    I will say that I cringed a little when you mentioned “metrics.” Gad, how I hate that achievement of kids and thus their schools has come down to a numbers game. Still, what can we do except help the system one class, one teacher, one kid at a time? Love that you found such a great teacher whose class you’ve become a part of… “Miss Lisa”…love that bit.

    06/12/16
    10:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, One kid, one teacher, one person at a time. I’m not even going to get into the “metrics,” I totally understand they are deeply problematic. xox.

  • Brava, Lisa!

    06/12/16
    10:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @linda, Thank you.

  • Beautiful post, Lisa! And it has been fascinating to read about the many volunteer experiences your readers are engaged in, with such a wide variety of cultures.

    But to address a comment from another poster here: Wasps don’t “sacrifice” – they serve.

    06/12/16
    2:11 pm
    Lisa said...

    @victoire, Thank you. And the comments here are so often the best part of the post. Agreed. We serve. It’s not a sacrifice, it’s what we are supposed to do, with a stiff upper lip;).

  • Thank you Miss LISA for another great post, followed by many thought provoking comments.
    We humans don’t have much without health, love and education (formal or not). Volunteering is a win-win and I hope I can emulate you by contributing in some way when I retire next year!

    06/12/16
    2:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Suz, finding your volunteer niche, it’s wonderful when you do. And I’d like to thank all the commentors for the remarkable civility. It is so important to me that we retain community, despite differing opinions.

  • Your passion for helping children is wonderful. It is also very satisfying to know you made a difference in their schooling.

    I agree our schools need to improve and the funding issues must be fixed, Susan

    06/13/16
    8:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, Thank you. It’s very satisfying. And I enjoy have a venue for all my displaced maternal feelings:).

  • Lisa thank you for volunteering in the schools. I am a California public school teacher at an elementary school so I am in the trenches! A new kind of volunteer has recently spent some time with us. Therapy dogs! Every week two or three dogs come with their people and listen to children read in the two Special Day classes and my special education resource room. The children love it and it has motivated them to read more in anticipation of the dog’s visits. These dogs need to go through training and pass a test before they are certified therapy dogs. The dogs sit and listen and are petted, loved and talked to. It is a wonderful way to volunteer.

    06/13/16
    8:39 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you in turn for teaching! That’s the real work. And therapy dogs sound fantastic. A way also for those who love animals to widen their scope of service.

  • This is a lovely story; we should all try to find time to help other people out – even if it’s in a very small way.

    06/15/16
    5:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    <3

One Trackback

  1. […] as student, but volunteering again as I did last year. The teacher was finally ready to open her class to […]