burdens & blessings

By Erin Fox

"The most difficult thing about my job would have to be the systematic barriers put in place for this community. I will be honest, when I first started, I really didn't focus on that. To me, it was just like, ‘I'm in charge of the after-school program. Let me help the students with their homework.’ But as I was getting more and more involved in learning about the families and doing home visits, it became more in my face, so I paid attention.

 

Most of our population in this community is ESL. Seeing how the school districts do not accommodate the parents the way they should to help make sure that resources are available to them in their own language is disheartening. Another big one is technology. It's great, but the people that get the technology last are usually low-income, and so they're falling behind in that aspect because everything's online. The fact of the matter is most of the people in our community don't have a computer or internet access at home. So that inequity too…it seems like decisions are made not in the interest of the local community.

 

I always say I have the best team. Two of our staff members on our team are former students in our program. The students I first started working with are done with college—all but some of them have gone to college. But I’m not going to sit here and say all of them are success stories. It is very sad when you see some of the students that you work with becoming statistics. I've seen students that I knew were struggling and they're struggling as adults now. I'd probably say the saddest thing is for me seeing one of the students I used to work with as homeless. But it comes with the territory, you know that not everyone is going to succeed even though you try your best.

 

This is where I've been going to work for the last 10 years. I know the kids. I know the families. So even though I might not have been raised in this neighborhood and I don’t to bed in this neighborhood, I do consider this my neighborhood. I do want to see everyone in this neighborhood succeed."