This is Joan Anderson from the Smithson-Craighead Academy, one of the most effective charter schools on the planet for helping extreme at-risk children get back in the game and stay there. And she is holding the reason the Community Resource Center exists.

Yes, it’s just a packet of paper donated by a healthcare company,  OPTUMInsight, that bought another company and had leftover stationary with the old logo. But it’s a packet of paper (and there were a lot of packets – like three pallets full) that Joan says will save the school a half a year’s budget on paper. Many, many packets went back to school with Joan.

Metro had given up on the children who attend the school, and now they are thriving. But it is a daily struggle. Some of the children come to school in dirty clothing. The school has a washing machine and they exchange the dirty clothes for clean ones at the beginning of the school day and give the children back their freshly laundered clothes at the end. The struggling parents of these children know the school will take care of a chore they cannot afford to accomplish themselves. The school has extended hours from early in the morning to late in the afternoon so children don’t return to an unsafe environment any earlier than they have to.

Right now, the umbrella organization of the school, Project Reflect, is struggling to keep its middle school open. Project Reflect started the middle school so its elementary school graduates would find a safe place as they grew. Middle school kids are a little more difficult, as any parent knows. Test scores aren’t what they should be. The school turns no child away and that has caused problems with students who were not brought up in the strict but loving atmosphere of Smithson-Craighead.

So this is why we matter. As they scrape every penny together to serve children who have been marginalized in a traditional school setting, at least they won’t have to pay for paper for the next few months. They won’t have to pay for laundry detergent either. CRC provided that, too.

If you have a few dollars you’re about to spend on a fancy dinner out, why not donate that to Project Reflect, a truly outstanding organization that is not talking the talk, but walking the difficult walk of educational reform for our poorest young citizens.

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