Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Something 2 Eat

In teaching high schoolers about money, specifically how your values impact your spending, I’ve always wanted to help students understand about poverty. Many of the students I teach struggle with poverty themselves to some degree. When you struggle in poverty, it can be difficult to see past your own dire circumstances. That is why we wanted to help students see the kind of poverty that kids are struggling with in under-developed countries like the horn of Africa and hopefully encourage compassion in the students.

I am so in awe of what happened on December 3rd. I can’t stop thinking about how much people gave of themselves, their strength, energy, money and time to make such a beautiful thing happen.

130,000 meals were packed for kids and orphans in eastern Kenya who do not have “Something To Eat”. 300 students, teachers, volunteers, friends, neighbors, baseball players and fans, and people who just heard through word of mouth came together to pack these meals. Throughout the day we stopped periodically to learn about justice and poverty issues and reflect on the condition of the poor.

I want to brag on some of my teachers and students…

Mr. Caryotakis had just come from a memorial service, and said he wanted to spend his time doing something like this, which would have a lasting impact, after going to something like that.

“If we spent the day doing this again tomorrow, I would stay for that as well.”
Mr. Skillin was the first to come and last to leave. He was at the gym before the set up team, at 7am, making sure all the doors were open and ready for us. Then he stayed late, cleaning the gym floor. He gave so sacrificially of his time. He and the other basketball coaches even had their basketball teams participate in the event as their practice that day.
Ms. Henderson worked so fast with her tables that they were among the first to finish their stack of boxes at their table. They started helping other tables finish!

Coach Poulos and Coach Uhalde came to help throughout the day.

College Track sent a bunch of students. School Board Member, Sharifa Wilson, also CEO of College Track, came to encourage her students and is excited about East Palo Alto’s involvement in this next year.

Julie got a bunch of parents and kids together from her son’s baseball team to come. There were two tables full of baseball players packing meals.

Alex loaded up his Prius with kids from his youth group and drove all the way up from Visalia to have his kids pack. They were so focused that they didn’t get a lunch break until after 3! A couple of his boys came to help flatten the trash in the dumpsters so we could fit our trash in there.

Alejandro brought a group of students from Belle Haven Community School who stayed all day to serve.

My FutureProfits Volunteers were awesome! Randy, Brad, Marc, Steve, Emily, Marilyn and Dianna were there all day constantly giving 100%. Barbara faithfully served at the registration table. Geo took conceptual pictures of the event even after breaking his finger the day before. Ivan brought a friend to help. Many came throughout the day and gave what they could.

There were countless volunteers from Peninsula Covenant Church and Highway Community who came and gave their all.

And like Jeremy Affeldt said, the students who gave are my heroes. They worked faithfully throughout the day, and for those who had to leave early, they worked up until the last minute as hard as they could. FutureProfits students from Carlmont, Menlo-Atherton, and Sequoia High School all came and gave of their time. Morgan, Nehemiah, Kenia, Patrick, and Dalton are among those who came and stayed the whole day.

Here is a link from Comcast SportsNet who showed up and covered the event. SF Giants Pitcher Jeremy Affeldt was there the entire day and was wonderful as he interacted with the students.

And here are some of our in house publications...

NCUD's Youtube Video

NCUD's thank you newsletter

Pictures from the day of:
Album #1

Album #2

All in all, a total success! Thanks for your support! Many of you played a vital role... it wouldn't have happened without you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Everyone Needs Somebody

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how difficult it is to persevere without family support.  So many people I know from our community are strong, but life seems to throw them curve ball, after curve ball.  I often wonder why they don’t give up.  How they find the motivation to keep their heads up.  Here are two stories of young ladies I know that didn’t have positive role models or support in their lives.

Maria’s Story:
Maria 21-years-old and lives with her mom, sister, brother and her 4-year-old son. She has been raising Jr. on her own since he was 6 months old, because her boyfriend was caught with drugs and was arrested. Ever since, Maria and Jr. haven’t had any communication with the dad.  

Maria finds it hard to raise Jr. without the support of her family.  She works two part time jobs (minimum wage) and she also receives money & food assistance from Welfare. She has to pay rent, a baby sitter and provide groceries for her brothers and mom. About 4 months ago Maria lost her part time job (working at a pizza place).   Now, she only has her job at the library (10 hours a week), and to top it off, she is receiving less money from food stamps. Her and her mom had been having a lot of problems lately because Maria can no longer pay rent money, so her mom kicked her out.  She’s been living at a shelter with her son ever since. About 2 months ago, her car got towed because she was driving on a suspended license. Lately, I’ve been seeing Maria with multiple guys and have heard a couple of rumors about her selling her body. I really want to help her yet I don’t know how to approach her about this situation. I’m scared to ask her if she’s been sleeping with men for money, because I don’t know how she will react. What would you do?

Olga’s Story:
Olga is a 21-year-old, and a close friend of mine. Olga also has a 5-year-old son. When I first met Olga she was 16-years-old and we became instant friends. Olga had been in and out of Jail since she was 15-years-old until she was 19-years-old. The main reason why Olga was in and out of jail was because she would hang out with the wrong crowd. She used to also fight a lot.

Loyalty is huge for Olga.  Her friends were the most important part of her life besides her son. Growing up she didn’t really have the support of her parents. Her parents were Christian and always blamed her for being a “bad girl” they would always put her down telling her how she was a bad influence to her younger brothers and sisters.  Her dad always treated her differently; it was as if he held a grudge towards her for not being who he wanted her to be. I knew exactly what she was going through, and knew I could help her if only she was willing to surrender it all to God.

One Sunday morning I was getting ready to go to church and Olga asked if she could come with me. I was so happy that she had finally decided to join me (I had invited her multiple times, but she never wanted to go) in our way there I asked her what made her want to come. She said, that she had been observing the way I was living my life now vs. how I used to live my life before.
She said, “ I always see you with a smile, yet you are going through a lot!” “How do you manage to stay happy?”

I felt like this was the perfect time to share with her how much God was doing in my life. I shared with her the reasons why I stopped hanging out with our mutual friends.  Because she was so loyal to her friends, I didn't think she would understand that I felt like being around them just made me want to get into trouble. We were always seeking to have a good time, yet never talked about our future plans. We were stuck in the same little box. I wanted to do different things I wanted to learn from someone that could teach me how to live my life better, healthier. Make better decisions that would impact my daughter and me in a positive way, rather then being the same ordinary girl from the “town”. Olga started attending church with me every Sunday. She went from having no type of relationship with God to actually attending a few bible study classes with me. I’m very happy to see how much she’s changed her old ways. I can see a different Olga now. An Olga that even though she goes through hard times, she still decides to make good choices.  Her relationship with her parents has improved as well.

Although both of these stories aren’t finished, Olga’s path has changed and Maria’s has not.  I think the major difference is that Olga has positive people in her life, friends she can depend on, and God.  In both Maria’s and Olga’s story, they didn’t make the best decisions, but they also didn’t have the support and role models to make better choices when they were young.  They both felt like huge disappointments.    What I think my friend’s need, and others in similar situations, are people to believe in them, to encourage them, and to support them through the hard times.

-Blanca Medina