I want to share a few quick facts with you:

  • 51% of America’s public school students are ranked at or below poverty level.
  • 50% of high-income students will receive a college degree. 10% of low-income students will receive a college degree.
  • Poverty is ranked as one of the top five most dangerous threats.

While these statistics are both staggering and sickening, I am sure they did not shock you. Unfortunately, low-income and poverty are not new issues of concern. In fact, we have become so accustom to these realities that it would be incredibly easy to read these few stats, close the browser and not give them another thought throughout the day. However, I encourage you to take a moment to pause and allow the enormity of what low-income is going to look and feel like for a 6-year-old. 13-year-old. 17-year-old.

Photo from Laura Nickel on vimeo.com.

Photo from Laura Nickel on vimeo.com.

There is a little oasis located in SE Rochester called Friendship Place. Over the past semester, I have had the great honor of volunteering weekly at Friendship Place. Friendship Place offers a safe and positive environment for elementary, middle and highschool students to study, receive homework help and participate in other fun activities. Poverty is a hard-to-break cycle so often because, although there are resources available to low-income families, the families may be unaware of these resources or have difficulty accessing them. As it is run solely on volunteers, the programing at Friendship Place is free and meets the students in their own neighborhood. Friendship Place is located across from an apartment complex and most students walk over every day after school. The children who participate in the programs offered are typically low-income. While their parents are hard at work, striving to create a better life for their children, Friendship Place can offer the academic assistance to kids so that they might find success in school.

The bottom line is kids are kids. Whether they have had college funds set aside since conception or they will be the first in their family to graduate high school, all children strive for the same kind of love and acceptance. And this can come from you! Take a moment – just a moment – to speak truth and love into a child’s life TODAY. I know that we are all busy and have crazy schedules. However, if this is pulling at your heartstrings, find a place to volunteer and show the kids who must fight harder than their peers to succeed, that they can succeed and you are willing to stick with them through it. A great place to start is at Kids First here in Winona!

-Sarah Pease

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