On Golf, Homelessness and Forever Homes

I am quite behind on my Do Good Summer Reading Challenge posts.  I could offer up an excuse about my kids being sick or my computer crashing, but in reality, I was simply enjoying my time with my family.   On Wednesday, my mom and I saw Once on Broadway.  Seeing a live performance is always fun, but this was made much more special because we know the little girl who played Ivanka. Thursday, we relaxed and played as a family.  Friday we jumped waves and floated on a lazy river at a water park.  The long holiday weekend culminated with fireworks on the Delaware River tonight.  It has been busy and this blog has been neglected, but I am going to make up for it in the next couple days.  Here’s a start:

 

Day 8: You may not know that I enjoy golfing.  My husband trained me to be his golf partner and it is one of our favorite things to do together.  I was out on the golf course when I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with Josie and I am pretty sure it was the best golf I ever played.  We don’t get to play nearly enough, but I envision us getting back to it now that we are done making babies.   So, today, when I encountered Now On The First Tee via the WordPress Reader, I was intrigued.  And then I read the post 5 months… which led me to the very first post This is Why.  What I found was a young man, passionate about the sport of golf who is dealing with the loss of his father.  This young man is following his dream of playing on the professional circuit and doing it not only for himself, but also for his father.  I am rooting for him.

Day 9:  Wow!  Talk about an inspiration!  The blogger I discovered today actually found me in two ways.  He followed my blog and he was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Miss Happy Spirits.  To be honest, I am not really sure what took me so long to make my way over there.  Dennis Cardiff’s blog, Gotta Find A Home, is a tremendous example of how one person can make a difference.  By connecting with those who live on the street and sharing their stories via his blog, he humanizes them and calls attention to the plight of homeless individuals everywhere.   Through his blog, I am inspired to seek out ways to address homelessness in my region.  Project HOME is a well-known agency that provides an array of services to the Philadelphia homeless population.  According to their website, on any given day, it is estimated that there are 4,000 homeless people in the city.   Further, in 2005, the City’s Office of Emergency Shelter and Services served 14,986 homeless people through its emergency shelter system. Of this number, 9,468 were adults without children, 2,011 were heads of households, and 3,507 were children.  It is mind boggling to me that 3,500 children experienced homelessness in one year.   Project HOME is on my list of charities that need my help, be it financial or a gift of my time by volunteering.  If you are in the Philadelphia area and are interested in volunteering, Project HOME has an extensive list of opportunities.  At the very least, next time you encounter a homeless individual, be kind.  In the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

English: A homeless man in New York with the A...

English: A homeless man in New York with the American flag in the background. Français : Un homme sans domicile fixe à New York. Un drapeau des États-Unis est visible en arrière plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 10:  Today,  I walked down memory lane with Tric at My thoughts on a page. She wrote a beautiful post, The tales a house could tell, about revisiting her childhood home, the home in which her parents still live.  It is at once emotional, humorous and thought-provoking and I immediately felt a connection to it.   You see, my family (The Hubs and The Girls) moved in with my mom in August 2012, into the home in which I was raised from birth.  My husband and I are sleeping in the bedroom I inhabited from birth through high school graduation.  It no longer has the orange shag carpets of my nursery decor, or the mauve walls and pink carpet of my tween and teen years, thankfully.  But it does hold loads of memories, though many of them have faded and I am somewhat surprised by how many details I cannot remember.  I suppose that happens with time, but now I wish I had been better at keeping a journal or scrapbook of those years.  Now, I am making new memories in this “forever home” with my family by my side.  Where I used to see my brother’s room, I now see the girls’ room, the room in which Lily first climbed out of her crib and earned her toddler bed.   When I look outside, I see the driveway where Josie learned to ride her bike and the sidewalk where Lily got her first scraped knee.    Our time here is special.  It is full of memories and milestones and I know how lucky I am to be able to return to this home of my youth.  I hope someday to settle in a house that my children will be proud to visit as adults with their families, a home that will always be their “forever home.”

Let Your Child’s Creativity Flow for Charity

Is your child a Picasso in the making?  Does your family enjoy creating masterpieces with paint, markers or pastels?  You can channel that creative energy into a way to support underfunded art programs in low-performing schools!

Host a Clothesline Art Sale:

This is such a fun opportunity to let your children’s creativity shine and support arts initiatives in low-performing schools with underfunded art programs. Fresh Artists provides a step-by-step guide for children and their parents on how to get started. This could be part of a neighborhood wide yard sale, a project for your local playgroup, your child’s scout troop or class at school. Kids will love it because they are getting to create artwork and host their very own “gallery.” Time to get your child to practice their “when I am famous” signature!

via Do-Gooder Kids Activities.

Back to My Roots…

I posted the following response to a question posed by a fellow University of Pennsylvania Urban Studies Alumnus on Linked In and felt compelled to share it here too.  The question was: “What is the biggest issue affecting our cities today? And what can we as Urban Studies Alums do about it?”    My response: Education.   And so today, you get a glimpse into my past and what I believe the future of education in our urban centers must look like to create and sustain positive change.

“In response to Kevin (who responded with a post about the socio-economic divide): Fresh out of college I worked for a non-profit that, among other things, sponsored the Ambassadors Program which brought high school students from inner-city Philadelphia together with students from suburban Philadelphia to work together on social impact projects.  The Ambassador Program commenced with a weekend retreat and the students met on a monthly basis to work towards their goal, often communicating more frequently in order to achieve their objectives.  The impact projects were impressive, but I think the greatest impact of the Ambassadors Program was that it created a mutual understanding between students from very different socio-economic backgrounds.  The students found they had much in common despite the obvious differences.  I commend you for engaging in coaching with a non-profit and providing young girls with a positive experience and opportunity to find common ground with others who are different from them.

As for the original question, I firmly believe that education continues to be a thorn in the side of urban centers.   There have been some tremendous innovations in recent years, with charters flourishing and out-of-school-time programs available in abundance.  While I am excited by some of the innovations, urban schools are still faced with students who enter school a major deficit when compared to students in wealthier suburban districts.  The missing piece is Mandatory Preschool starting at age 3 and available to every single child in an under-performing school district.

I am now a mother to a 3 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old.  While I have always believed a solid foundation was important for success in school, it is now abundantly clear to me that preschool should be a part of mandated schooling.  I am lucky enough to be home with my girls and spend a good deal of time reading to them and encouraging learning through our daily adventures.  But, not every parent has the time, knowledge or ability to do this for their children, particularly in urban centers where parents can be overworked and undereducated.

For starters, we can all support President Obama’s Preschool For All initiative.  But, I also think we need to support and promote nonprofits who are working to provide access to high quality preschool education in urban centers.  We must provide young children with a solid foundation and free up urban schools to teach on-level, rather than try to play catch-up with children who are woefully under-prepared for school.  This is a path to leveling the playing field and it is a path that should be a priority over the next decade in the United States. MjAxMy00ZTU4MDVmYTI1ZDAyMmZi