Today I wore my t-shirt that sports the “Minnesota Virtual High School” logo on it. When I work somewhere, I love to have stuff that has the logo on it. I am a complete superfan. When I worked at PACT Charter School from August 2003-June 2005, my advisory class had t-shirts for the advisory softball games in the spring. We had a “Bender” (click here to see the entire line) as our mascot. When I worked at Wolf Creek Online High School, I had fleece vests and fleece coats to wear out and about on visits.
I had a reason for wearing my t-shirt today, though, as I attended what I thought was a strict marketing event. I love marketing. I think it is a blast to talk to people about the possibilities that are out there in the school world. I love asking questions and directing people down the paths that would work well for you. I love talking about what I do and why I do it. It is great fun!
However, when I arrived at the event called Youth Connect located at a Greek Orthodox church in South Minneapolis, I realized that this was much more than a marketing event. The event’s purpose was to connect youth who are homeless or highly mobile with resources such as employment services, housing assistance, and education. Obviously, I was representing a school and providing information about education.
Earlier in the day, I was feeling sorry for myself because I was overwhelmed at work. Emails plagued me. Phone calls interrupted me. People annoyed me. One of my assistants resigned, and today was her first day not in the office. Another of my assistants got married on Saturday; she also was not in the office. I fought about the philosophy behind our attendance and truancy policies (which, by the way are founded in Minnesota law…) with a co-worker in another state and with a parent. The day was, as I had predicted when I awoke, going poorly.
As I started talking with the youth who attended the event, I started realizing that my “poor me” attitude had no place. Surrounded by others in the fields serving youth, my eyes were open – once again – to the plight of youth…in Minneapolis. In our metro area, there are over a million youth aged 16-21 who are in need of services. One million students who need employment, housing, or education assistance. Many will not sleep on a bed tonight. Many only have what they carried today. Many only ate what was served at the event today and do not know when they will eat again.
As I drove home, I reminded myself of the truth that my children would eat dinner tonight with two parents who love them, that they have more clothes than they need, and that they will sleep in a bed in a house tonight. I have much for which to be thankful. I also was reminded that there are many who need much.