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LEARNING TO GIVE

CMHS IGNITION

District programs take aim at teaching students the value of volunteering

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News & Highlight
GIVING BACK FOR GOOD: 
Crete-Monee High School mentoring group collects and
delivers 600 cases of water to Flint families in need

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FLINT, Michigan – Students from the Young Women Empowered (YWE) Mentoring Program at Crete-Monee High School take a break from organizing their delivery of 600 cases of water to a neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. The effort, sponsored by YWE, is headed by school board secretary, Mrs. Kimberly Sanders (first row, second from the left), in partnership with Grassroots America, a national non-profit organization. Earlier this year, after learning about the water crisis in Flint, the group began collecting water from classmates and the community. Recently, the CMHS students, their parents and CMHS male volunteers loaded the water onto trucks and traveled to Michigan to deliver the water to families. Mrs. Sanders says the volunteer effort has “helped students understand the vital importance of civic responsibility and using their talents to serve the needs of their communities, both locally and globally.”

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When the 16 students from Crete-Monee High School’s Young Women Empowered (YWE) Mentoring Program arrived in Flint, Michigan, they didn’t know what to expect. Their exuberance after their months of collecting bottled water for residents was replaced by the grim reality families in the small town are facing. While media talk of the drinking water contamination has waned in recent months, the students’ recent road trip to deliver the 600 cases of bottled water was a stark reminder of the importance of giving back.

“My experience in Flint was outstanding,” said YWE member Makaela Williams. “I learned so many things about myself and others, but also about how it feels to help people in need. This trip showed me that I need to be grateful for what I have because you never know how bad someone else has it,” she said.

The students were asked where they were from as they delivered the water to neighborhood residents, who responded, “Thank you for what you’re doing!” and “You all came all the way from Illinois for this?!” CMHS junior Shyvonne Eason says that the experience has helped him to better understand the struggle of other young people in different communities. “It made me happy to put a smile on people's faces. Seeing the neighborhoods’ boarded up and deserted, without kids out playing in the park was tough but I know that they were appreciative of what we came to do,” he said.

Mrs. Williams, one of three parents that accompanied the students to Flint, believes that students need this kind of exposure to understanding problems and organizing to find a solution. “The trip to Flint was a great learning experience for our young adults. It gave them a chance to see how much they should value the small things we need in life. It also gave them the experience of giving back to the community at no cost, with just a little [hard] work,” she said.

YWE sponsor and board member, Mrs. Kimberly Sanders, says that the need to make this volunteer effort “real” for the students was the impetus to partner with national non-profit Grassroots America. The organization created a designated site that allowed students to distribute their water donations throughout the neighborhood themselves.

“These students really had no idea of what those folks in Flint are going through,” said Mrs. Sanders. “We wanted to teach our children the importance of giving back, about finding their passion and organizing to impact change. This project, from beginning to end, really allowed them to stretch themselves and I think they are all better kids for it,” she added.

YWE will continue its community service projects with a visit to Deborah’s Place in Chicago in June. The non-profit organization is the city of Chicago’s largest provider of support services to women who are homeless.


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