Tom Brown is a recent recipient of the “Trevor DaCosta award for longtime volunteers and friends of
Here are a few words from a long term volunteer:
As I neared retirement in the late 80's after 30 years in government -- always a long arms reach away from the people we tried to serve -- I wanted to be closer. At the same time, my church was launching programs designed to help less advantaged neighbors. One was a GED school for adults called the
I learned that adults always have more going on in their lives than learning bookish subjects; things like health and family that seem more important, even to me, than the day's homework. Olive, for instance had trouble staying awake and Marja discovered that Olive's bed had no mattress. One day after class Marja invited me to give her a hand. That day ended as we squeezed a double mattress into Marja's car, then into an elevator, and onto Olive's box spring. An
Chanta grew up in Pol Pot's
Mary and her infant son John were so close that John came to class while she started a new life free from alcohol and drugs. Mary's two daughters were separated from the family in foster homes. Several years of study brought Mary health care employment as valued staff at a home for HIV-infected mothers. She also became self-supporting and she re-gathered her family. But, within months, a hereditary disease attacked Mary's brain. She became totally disabled and was hospitalized for some years unto death. It was a tragic ending made bearable perhaps, by the recovery and re-gathering that preceded her disease.
I loved to hear Mattie tell her story because Mattie is even older than me. In
Mattie owned seven houses in D.C. including one on
Over the years, we've celebrated hundreds of graduations with students and their families. Lives have changed. But the life I'm writing about today is mine. Perhaps I've taught a little, though more often; I've just been present when the student was ready to learn. And me, I've been close enough to meet and appreciate a bunch of great people whom I'd never have met but for The Hope.