by Sam Fontaine
Community Engagement Coordinator, Enka Middle Community School
Not everyone has the time to tutor a student in math or lead an after school club, but I’ve learned this year that everyone can make a difference. Jean is an active member at Francis Asbury UMC, conveniently neighboring Enka Middle School, and a recent implant to the Asheville area by way of Austin, Texas. She’s an enthusiastic problem-solver, an excellent listener, and a highly motivated person. It was my pleasure to work with her this year as she opened my eyes to new ways that volunteers could help our school.
“What is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”- David Mitchell
Imagine 1,000 middle school students inside for eight hours a day. Germs start to spread, abundances of energy have to be spent indoors, and the cold, dark weather provides no relief. That’s February in a middle school and it is tough. If you think that it sounds tough for students, imagine being responsible for them; it is tough for the teachers, too. I knew that I wanted to help boost teacher morale in that difficult time, but finding a solution was proving to be difficult. It was on this occasion that we were lucky to have someone like Jean to think outside of the box for us.
At our community school meeting that month I briefly explained that I wanted to show our appreciation to the school’s teachers to boost morale. A couple of ideas were thrown around but we were not able to establish a plan of action. A few weeks later I got a call from Jean. She told me that she had baked cookies for the school’s entire staff and later that week she delivered.
One Person, One Simple Act, Huge Impact
I can’t give you an exact number, but every teacher, administrator, and custodian was fed that day. That’s at least 200 cookies, from four different recipes, all baked from scratch, individually portioned and wrapped, with a ribbon and thank you note attached to each bag. The staff was incredibly grateful and harassed me to reveal to them the person responsible for this kind gesture. Their shock and astonishment was amplified when I told them one volunteer had done this for them. I can’t blame them for being shocked, I was, and still am, astonished by it. To think that one person could make such a huge difference in a day is staggering.
It was this kind of pleasant surprise that I will always remember from my year at Enka Middle, and I was lucky enough to experience many of them. To me, we can all learn something from Jean’s motivation and ingenuity because it shows us the impact one person can have with one simple act. If you’ve taken the time to read this story, I encourage you to take initiative and do the little things next school year and beyond. You never know how many lives you might change.
Image courtesy of Bing