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Volunteer Your Mom Skills to Fight Poverty

Volunteer Your Mom Skills to Fight Poverty

Photo courtesy of David Keim

All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors – in our own way, each of us is a giver and a receiver. – Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers

There is an exciting new comprehensive anti-poverty program here in Huntsville and they are looking for Moms (and Dads) to help them in their fight against one of our city’s ugliest blights. The program, known as The Village of Promise, is officially launching this month after years of planning by many of Huntsville’s brightest minds. The founders, Bobby Bradley and Gloria Batts, have an ambitious goal for this program. As stated on the program’s website they hope “to raise consciousness about education generally in our community and to make the specific point that the inconsistency present in the delivery of instruction is morally unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.” Can I hear an “Amen”?

The Model

The program follows the model of The Harlem Children’s Zone which has gained national attention for its revolutionary approach to ending intergenerational poverty. The Zone is a compendium of programs that start at birth and follow the families and children involved on through college. It has been called “arguably the most ambitious social experiment to alleviate poverty of our time” (Dobie/Fryer, Harvard 2009) and the Obama administration has announced plans to replicate the program in 20 other cities. Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada, recently named one of Time magazine’s most influential men in the world, will speak at a luncheon being held September 22nd at the VBCs North Hall. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at www.villagepromise.org or by phone (256.536.8052). A screening of the documentary Waiting for Superman will preceed the event. Much of Canada’s work is highlighted in the film.

How You Can Help

Several community organizations are already part of The Village of Promise including: Calhoun Community College, UAH, Huntsville Hospital, Heals Clinic, Premier Schools and many more. But for a program of this magnitude to work, our entire community will need to come together. Volunteers are needed in a variety of areas but two are crucial during these beginning stages. Reading and Math Tutors are needed during school hours and after-school. If you have an hour a day to listen to a child read, you can help.

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Mom Aides are also needed to assist those mothers (many of whom are very young) who are entering their children in the program. This might include attending a Parent/Teacher conference with a mom who is too intimidated to attend by herself. Maybe you are simply serving as a resource for someone who needs an experienced mother to answer childcare questions. If you want to learn more about all of the possible volunteer opportunities available please call 256.536.8052. Ours is a wonderful community but it isn’t perfect and many of our city’s problems can be traced back to poverty. If we can break the cycle, we will truly be a city without limits.


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