Volunteerism & Philanthropy
I continue to go weekly to Manhattan Bridges, a high school on the West side, midtown of Manhattan, as a volunteer, to help kids with writing essays for their college applications. At the risk of repeating myself, I like this school because it houses immigrant kids from Latin America, and few enough that they don't get lost. The majority seem to come from the Dominican Republic; I've met some from Ecuador and Mexico as well. Some have been here for years, but most seem to have arrived in the last 3-4 years, many without good English or any English, many from a family with divorced parents, in which case a mother or father may remain in the native country.
Though they dress well, these kids are just about none rich. Given that what they write are personal essays, to open a window on themselves, remarkable stories emerge. One I heard this week was from a girl who had just given birth to a baby daughter only a couple of months ago--and here she was back in school and looking hardly different from other seniors. Her family wanted her to abort the child; she was resolved to keep the baby, and did. So many bumpy tales! Some kids in that school impress as industrious and up to the challenge of writing (not easy to begin with) in a language not their first. And some hang their heads and more or less stay awake. Not so different from teenagers everywhere. I've preached that as long as they're willing to work, I'm willing to help.
Nothing in my life today--not even my own writing--gives me as much satisfaction as the day I spend at Bridges, especially when I see a light clearly turning on. Those kids are deserving.