In our local school district (Grapevine-Colleyville, Texas) there are over 3000 students identified as economically disadvantaged. That number grows every year, currently it is right at 1 in 4. These are the children on free and reduced lunch. This the little girl who showed up to see the school nurse on Monday morning with a tummy ache. When the nurse questioned the child she discovers the last time the little girl ate, last Friday, at school. This the little boy seen limping every day. He wasn’t injured, his shoes were just several sizes too small.
I know we can debate poverty forever. I know many of us disagree on how to address it. Maybe the people should work harder. Maybe we are enabling them to stay like that by giving out food and clothes. Maybe there are immigration issues that no one can agree on. I finally decided, that I, personally am not interested in debating poverty anymore. I’m done with it. I just want these children to be seen.
So a few of us decided to tackle something really big It is so big there is no way it can be done alone. We decided to invite our community to look into the eyes of the children in need in our school and do something to transform their situation.
I want us to see them; get to know them; listen to their stories and hear their needs. We all know if children are fed, clothed properly and have the right school supplies, eye glasses, dental and medical care, they will be better learners and community members. We know if a child has just one mentor, they are less likely to be at risk for all kinds of things. When they are better served, we all move forward.
So less than two years ago, Connect was born. www.connectgcisd.org. Connect is about doing not debating. Connect is about tackling something bigger than any one of us. Connect requires all of us, churches, synagogues, civic clubs, teachers and school administrators, the city personnel, businesses and countless other organizations to pool our resources so that we can see these children.
When I first heard the story of the little girl with the tummy ache who hadn’t eaten all weekend, my eyes filled with tears. Then I got mad. Then I just said, “Not in our backyard, not in our schools, not on our watch.”
You and I are what we see. Our life is somewhat defined by what we look at. Right here in our community, in our schools, just around the corner from our neighborhood there are children in need. I want us to seem them, really see them.