Yesterday was my favorite day of the entire school year. We took over a thousand students, over a hundred teachers and staff and a couple hundred parents out into the community for a day of giving back. Classes were dispersed to children’s shelters, the Human Society and nursing homes. Students helped set up for Relay for Life and assisted food pantries with organizing and packaging their donations. My class was sent to a local park where they helped move logs that were causing trail erosion and dragged debris onto social trails to obliterate them so that hikers are directed to the primary trails. Back the school, we learned that we raised over $3,000 to donate to three different organizations and collected over $12,000 worth of food that is going to two local shelters.
It’s a beautiful day. Being 8th graders, they usually grumble about it before hand and refuse to admit the significance of the day after, but it is in their faces. I saw quiet students come to life on that trail, no longer worried about their appearance or cool factor as they drug branches and scattered leaves. I saw the pride in their faces as they turned back down the hill and witnessed the transformation they had created in the woods beneath. I saw them connect to the specialness of the place and the bond of working together to achieve a goal. I even saw tears on some of their faces as the donations were awarded to the selected organizations that afternoon.
It is a day that teaches them the importance of looking beyond themselves. Of giving back. Of being connected and belonging to a community.
Those are lessons that will hopefully persist well beyond the day.
This also happens to be the weekend that Brock’s martial arts instructor is in town to host a biannual seminar. As is tradition, we will celebrate tonight with the entire group at dinner: Brock’s teacher, Brock’s students and their families and even former group members. It is a diverse group yet we have become a community. Members support each other and look out for each other. It is a family where each person has a sense of belonging and contributing; they know they always have a home in the group. I am so proud of Brock and his effort to bring and keep the group together. It a beautiful thing.
I hope to develop my own community where those who have been through the end of a relationship can find understanding and support. A place that can help to alleviate some that crushing isolation in the early days and where those who have found their way can help those behind them.
This weekend, I celebrate community.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa