In my last message I introduced everyone to the “original six”. These were 5th graders we identified years ago as having college potential and wanted to try to help go to college, or at least further their education beyond high school. We knew the kids well. We knew and very much liked their families but we also knew the odds were not in our favor, but that the kids were smart and tough. Many of them had already overcome so much.
Back then it was a dream….a hope… now we’re in the thick of our higher education dreams. All of the kids have stepped up to the challenges and some are flourishing. On this website you will find old videos we recorded while they were still in high school “before college’. under. “college” updates on their experiences written by the kids themselves. We’ve added kids since those videos were made. These are kids from the same neighborhood with similar stories and circumstances. We have also made a few one-time grants to students who are not part of our program. Currently, we have a few juniors and one senior at a major 4-year college. I am very happy with what we have been able to do so far concerning education but like I said we are in the thick of it now. There is always something that can go wrong. Of all the things we considered that could throw a wrench into our plans, a world-wide pandemic was not on the list.
Please watch the videos from a few years ago under the “before college” tab before reading the corresponding essays “college”. You will see that a lot has changed. When you read what the kids wrote please imagine yourself in their position. Ask yourself how your college experience might have been different if your campus was closed and your city was on lockdown due to a virus? We had kids living on campus as a refuge, but now the campuses are closed. Imagine if you had to take a semester off so you could move your whole family into a new place because you were being gentrified out of the place you lived since elementary school. Imagine a situation where you needed to study for finals but had to share your computer with younger siblings. When you finally do get the computer, you don’t have your own room. You’re forced to study in a common area with siblings playing and making noise around you. Imaging living in a crowded apartment while taking a class online without any privacy. None of these kids live in households that are fully locked down. All of the parents and most of these kids have to go out everyday to work. The kind of jobs they have are service jobs that bring them into contact with strangers, some of whom refuse to wear masks, and they can’t quit because there are bills to pay. Two of our kids have already had COVID-19 and recovered.
I love these kids. I also admire them. When the challenges increase they just work harder. For these kids the shortest distance between two points is never a straight line. It seems there is always something in the way. Since elementary school, the one place these kids could go to be a child for a while, have unlimited access to a computer, and see their friends has been the LBH. With COVID-19, they lose that option. Yeah we zoom but I miss the laughter coming from the next room. Every year, since these kids have started middle school, we have taken a road trip. The past six years we went to Deep Creek lake. The further we get from the city the bigger the smiles become. We don’t do anything special when we get to the lake house. We toss a football around. We play pool. We go out on the upstairs balcony at night and look for bears. Then look up at the stars….the stars we can’t see from the city streets in the nation’s capital. I wish I could describe the look I see in their faces when we’ve been away for a couple of days. That look of being unburdened lasts until the day we come back. We always stop for a meal on the way back to the city. After that meal we load back into the vehicles and slowly, one by one, the smiles go away. Because of COVID-19, this year no road trip to the mountains.
Carl Foster, founding board member. Not leaving ’til the job is done.
We are currently working to secure additional college funding for the students in our program. If you would like to learn more about the kids in our program and find out how you can help, see Our Kids.
The Little Blue House strives to obtain specific outcomes for participants in our youth-related programs: children are ready for school (i.e. to attend on time, every day, and participate in learning); children are able to invest in trusting relationships, based on their own growing ability to be responsible and accountable (and recognize that behavior in others); and children are able to articulate thoughts and feelings about their environment (neighborhood), and to understand and choose among positive and negative influences.