Well, this definitely has been a process. This journey began with a purpose and a goal; to teach underserved elementary kids English and make it a sustainable program that would continue to impact those students once the school year began. Then came a plan, use the Weymouth public library and partner with the Weymouth public school systems. Two emails were sent, one to the head librarian and the other to the superintendent of schools for the district, neither responded. Okay cool, switching gears, let’s target the Brockton area. I found a free space at the Christ Congregational Church of Brockton. That’s awesome, now to find kids to fill it with. One problem arises, the school system can’t actively endorse me for two reasons: 1. I’m not able to be CORId (Criminal Offender Record Information) as a minor, making it impossible to see whether or not I have a criminal background (I don’t) and 2. The school has its own programs that, despite not being offered to all children in need of the program, take precedence over third without previous connection to the school system. To get the word out we were told to give flyers to the library. Did that. Then we were also told to put the information in the town’s online forum. Did that too. Okay, we should be all set, the word is out, time to cross my fingers and hope for the best.
First day comes and I’m sitting on the front steps of the church waiting for someone to show up. Five minutes pass, no one. Ten minutes pass, no one. Fifteen minutes pass and someone finally shows up. Thank god I think, a person. He gets out of the car, walks up without any children, and in perfect English he … asks for directions. I was like a kid in a candy store whose mom just told him he couldn’t get anything because they were just passing through and were going to instead buy shingles from Lowes; a little disappointed. During this process I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that the bureaucracy that protects children also makes helping them really difficult. I’ve learned that sometimes no matter how hard you try things will crash and burn. And I’ve learned that you need to always be ready to cut your losses and switch gears. Next up we are going to try and get an official partnership with the school system backed non-profit Project Bread which provides free meals to school children and teens during the summer. Wish me luck!
-Gabe Swisher-Rosa ’23