|Guest Blogger: Adam Price|
It’s the summer of 2011, and I’m a finance staffer in a local affordable housing agency about to attend a meeting with a non-profit I’ve never heard of called Family Scholar House.
As Cathe Dykstra, CEO of Family Scholar House, walks in and begins her “sales pitch” it becomes clear she’s dynamic, energetic, and believes in what she’s “selling.” Only she’s not actually selling a product or service; she’s selling Family Scholar House as a way to elevate families out of poverty through education.
As odd as it sounds, since I’m married without kids, I identified with her stories of parents balancing the demands of education against the demands of raising children. Like Lou, there was a night when my mother went to bed with a husband and woke up the single parent of two children. She tried her hardest, but wasn’t able to finish college. I was also a non-traditional student, the result of an indulgent period majoring in music and the resulting three-year “semester” I took off once I realized I couldn’t support myself playing tuba. I waited tables, sometimes 50+ hours a week, throughout my education and became the first person in my family to graduate from college. As hard as that was, I can’t imagine how hard raising children at the same time would have been.
Within fifteen minutes of Cathe beginning to speak, I go from bored to interested to excited to suddenly realizing I want to speak up in support of HER argument. The partnership between the agency and FSH never materialized, and soon I transitioned to the next phase of my career at the University of Louisville. When I heard a FSH radio PSA asking for male volunteers, I jumped at the chance. Since then, I’ve attended mentoring sessions, donated gifts at Christmas and Easter, and arranged what felt like hundreds of pieces of patio furniture in advance of the grand opening of one of their residence halls. Most recently, I volunteered at Field Day, playing football and spending time with the children of program participants. I always feel like I’ve gained more than I’ve given.
This summer has driven home that our community faces serious issues and many have mistaken complaining about those issues for working to solve them. I’ve lived my entire life in this city, and I unabashedly love it. When I heard that PSA, and remembered how excited I was listening to Cathe articulate her vision, I decided I want to be part of the solution. Wendell Berry once wrote, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, (and) their trust in each other.”
From day one everybody at FSH has articulated that the size or scope of your involvement as a volunteer is less important than the signal it sends to participants that they are part of a broader community. Their website is attached to Lou’s post, and can be accessed by clicking the ad on this page. There are too many opportunities to become involved to list here, suffice to say they come in all sizes and many of them are fun and rewarding. Please, join me in signaling to these parents that they are part of a true community. One that isn’t perfect, but cares about their success and the success of their children, and will work to help and embrace them. I promise you’ll be glad you did.