With one in five children in the U.S. living in poverty, awareness of the plight of children should be on every elected official’s front burner. But so often these children are invisible to the public eye, especially when they live in an affluent area like ours. Take “Adam”:
Adam is a sixth grader at a local elementary school. He is a regular school kid, yet also one who has shown so much promise that he has been placed in a Young Scholar program that has him on track to being the first in his family ever to go to college. Unlike most of his classmates, though, Adam doesn’t have a home to go back to at the end of the day. Instead, he goes to Cornerstones’ Laurel Learning Center (LLC) where he enjoys an enriching after-school program until his mother comes to pick him and his baby sister up after she finishes her full-time job at a local fast-food restaurant. Then they walk – or occasionally hop on the bus – to their temporary sanctuary: the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. If his mom is late, Adam worries about her whereabouts; his tender heart knows the hardships she has endured and he feels very protective of her.
Cornerstones care managers have been trying to find an affordable home for the family in the area – close to the mother’s work and to LLC where both Adam and his little sister can enjoy quality care thanks to an income-based childcare subsidy. Adam has a vested interest in staying in Reston. He loves the teachers who are supporting him to advance academically. His progress at school gives him a great opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty that an increasing number of families find themselves in.
Adam’s sense of hope is contagious. His optimism has inspired some of the volunteers at LLC to reach out to others in the community to help support LLC’s efforts to care for children who would not otherwise have the experiences and enrichment that so many other children enjoy. And now Adam wants to give back too. Having experienced the fun and excitement of the Wolf Trap Camp-out that LLC organizes each summer, Adam has asked to come back next year – even though he will have outgrown LLC’s after-school program – to volunteer and help make that event a special time for other children.
And so, as we increase awareness of children who are striving to break out of a poverty cycle, let’s celebrate those children who, with the resources and support a community like ours can give, enter the cycle of paying it forward so that others can have hope for a better tomorrow today!