As an inner city elementary school teacher, my husband sees firsthand the staggering needs confronting youth in our community. Michael’s dad has been in jail since March; Isaiah is living with his grandma while his mother struggles to overcome her coke addiction; Samantha’s mom is struggling to pay the bills as a single parent.
How can we possibly overcome the poverty, violence, drugs, gangs, crime and homelessness threatening youth in Philadelphia and in so many other areas? Can one person really make a difference for these kids?
I admit I’ve been feeling pessimistic about it lately. It’s easier to just walk away from the problems; pack-up and move to the suburbs where I don’t encounter such stark need right on my own block.
But deep down, I believe that it actually is possible for one person to make a difference in the life of a child, because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen a shy, withdrawn child who has been neglected at home blossom under the guidance of a caring teacher. I’ve seen the hope that a loving foster parent can instill in a teen who has known nothing but heartache. I’ve seen kids in the neighborhood embrace futures of hope thanks to the positive outlets at their local afterschool program.
So I say, yes, one person can make a major difference in the life of a child, whether as a teacher, baseball coach, mentor, or adoptive parent. When we are willing to be part of the solution we can make a significant impact in the way children grow up…one person at a time.