It’s estimated that more than 16 million children in the United States live in extreme poverty and will go to their first day of school without proper school supplies, including clothes and shoes.
Our Movement teammates in California and Hawaii recognize the dire situation and are working to combat it. This year, Regional Director Mack McConkey reached out to tell us a story about four incredible leaders in his region and what they were doing to support their communities in need.
No child turned away
One year, two curious kids in Bakersfield, Cali. made their way toward a party a few blocks away, lured in by the sound of music playing, the smells of tables full of food. The oldest couldn’t have been more than six years old, the younger one maybe three. An adult asked, where are your parents? The older child responded, “at home.” They had walked blocks by themselves. The adults in charge ended up going to get the parents so the kids could stay and enjoy the fun.
Movement Mortgage Market Leader Christa Martinez recounted this story over the phone with a strain in her voice. It was her party they wanted to attend. For six years, Martinez and her team have held the “Dreams and Hope for the Children” back to school fundraiser. They find sponsors for each child to buy them backpacks, shoes, clothes and other basic items we take for granted.
Martinez also arranges to have local hair stylists on site to give kids fresh haircuts. For some, it may be the only one they get all year. The two children who walked all that way to Martinez’ event were able to get help they probably wouldn’t have received anywhere else.
Christa formed her foundation in 2011, and beyond school supplies, her non-profit helps educate parents and kids in subjects like financial literacy, gang prevention, college prep and spirituality.
Service to all
In Oxnard, Branch Manager Claudia Sandoval helped organize their 2nd “Pack to School” event focusing specifically on the needs of middle school children. One middle school receives backpacks that are given out before schools starts, another holds on to them to give out during the year to immigrant children who typically come to school with just the clothes on their backs.
Sandoval’s group donated 85 backpacks in 2017. They nearly doubled that in 2018 with 150.
It could have been me
Before the start of this school year, a 17-year-old walked into the lobby of the Department of Children and Family Services in Santa Clarita, Cali. He told the receptionist who he was there to see and she told him to sign in and put down the name of his social worker. She doesn’t get any teenagers walking in who don’t have a social worker.
He took a second to sign in, leaving the social worker line blank, and turned to sit. He saw other kids not much younger than himself sitting in that lobby, holding their heads low, crying. He knew this was probably their first time there and quickly realized how easily it could have been him.
But on this day, as they were there to get help, he was there to give it.
“That day was an awakening experience for him,” said Movement Mortgage Branch Manager Debbie Marcoux. It was her son who walked into that DCFS office with the mission to deliver two Suburban-loads of donated backpacks filled with more than $700 worth of supplies and basic necessities (like $200 in socks) to help foster children in the area.
“The families who take in these children do not necessarily have the means to go out and purchase all of the supplies that junior high and high school kids may need,” says Marcoux. “This is their first year that they have to change in the locker room for PE,” she adds. Not exactly the kindest of environments for kids whose families don’t have money for new clothes.
It’s a sobering thought when you realize there are charities set up simply to help American school teachers afford to prepare their classrooms to sufficiently educate our children. One such foundation, The Wishing Well, helps raise money for teachers in Hawaii. Teachers that take care of kids in Sharon Robinson’s school district.
Robinson is a Market Leader for Movement and has worked on the committee for The Wishing Well for seven years. Robinson and Movement sales manager Anna Revilla help supply things like furniture and other necessities for classrooms. “Some of the schools over here do not have air conditioning, so we were able to get fans for everyone who needed them,” says Robinson. “We just wanted to help teachers stop spending their own money.”
Their help has been impressive. Since 2007, the foundation has donated more than $1.6 million in goods, supplies and services to local schools. This year they held a fundraiser at the Maui Ocean Center and called it, “Wishes with Fishes.” They were able to raise more than $40,000.
“We are passionate about this organization, and having family who are teachers we understand the struggle they go through each year,” says Robinson.”Our teachers are the lowest paid teachers throughout the United States so I feel it’s an honor to help them save their money.”
Do you know someone making a change in their community? We are looking for the humble servants, the hard-workers who rise above circumstance, and we want to tell the stories of all the good our Movement family is doing. Send your Changemaker stories to Jennifer.Bates@Movement.com.