People sometimes ask me what I do. I usually give them a quick rundown of the activities of StudentReach. We speak to students about suicide, exploitation, and civility. We take students on trips to develop themselves and volunteer. We coach and mentor at-risk, homeless and refugee students. That’s the “what.” The more important question is “how” do we do what we do?
People. Our dedicated staff sacrifice in all kinds of countless ways. And our staff is amazing. But all the money in world couldn’t pay enough people to do that work that volunteers do. We have hundreds of volunteers we work with every year, but there are some people that play a special role in that they lead volunteers and multiply our efforts.
Margaret Mead said, “”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Commitment contains the power to change things. It’s hard to think of commitment without thinking of three of our most committed volunteers who come from incredibly diverse backgrounds but have at least one thing in common: commitment to idea that one caring adult can change the life of a student.
Maiko is an immigrant from Japan who came here when she was 19 and after some things went sideways became a single mom at a very young age. Jake is a young man from a middle-class family who embraces his geek side and his favorite hat in equal measure. Shaunta is a newlywed ex-model who once graced the cover of Vogue magazine in Italy. On the surface, these people have nothing in common. They are three distinct ethnicities with completely different life experiences and find themselves at completely different places in life. They have one common cause: the idea that they can change the life of student. This comes first by showing up, then by caring and becomes most effective when they lead effectively.
Their impact can’t easily quantified, but there are some windows into their commitment.
Shaunta recently had to step back from a lot of commitments to adjust to life as a newlywed, but she can still be found Friday mornings mentoring students in South Sacramento at a high school that has made the news for problems with human trafficking this year. I met a few students from that group whose lives have been changed.
A few weeks ago, Jake could be found helping an autistic student who came on a trip with us navigate the sometimes-stressful travel schedule and heightened social situations that are tough for any student. That student had never traveled without his parents and simply could not have done it without Jake, who served as an adult leader on our trip. The last night of the trip, I debriefed with that student and I was amazed what difference a week can make.
Maiko mentors students in two of Sacramento’s toughest neighborhoods and when students thought they could never raise a few hundred dollars to go on StudentReach’s spring break trip to Baja, Mexico, Maiko stepped in to help walk them through a process she was learning herself. When those students saw that they had helped pay for a new house for a single mom who was a victim of violence, they were moved to tears, partly because of the contribution they made with Maiko’s help.
Commitment changes things. StudentReach only exists because of our committed staff, volunteers and donors. We can use help with all three. We have paths for committed people to join our staff. We have more opportunities for volunteers than we have volunteers. We need more donors to help us with staffing and covering the expenses of our programs.
May 2nd, 2019, is the Big Day of Giving in the Sacramento region where local non-profits raise millions of dollars in one day. We need committed people to adopt StudentReach as their non-profit they support. Give a gift of any size and then share to your group of friends via, Facebook, Instagram, twitter, YouTube, email, word of mouth or just texting your friends to let them know how they can easily give to change the lives of students. A small group of committed people can change the world.