I’m hoping you are doing okay given what we are facing with the crazy weather and Covid-19. For me, it’s been a challenging time.
Working from home and trying to support The Howard School Interns as they grapple with learning from home hasn’t been easy. I think you will totally understand, as people in your life are experiencing similar challenges.
But the interns have worked hard to make the best of it, despite poor internet and often difficult learning environments at home. Thanks to you and our community’s support, we’ve been able to keep food on their tables, connect their parents to community resources for assistance, and give hope when it has been hard to come by.
Amidst it all, their eyes are wide open. The interns virtually assisted LMC's master gardener, Kathleen Robinson, in planting their Teaching Garden and then job shadowed me for the rest of the day. It's safe to say they've been exposed to the business side of conservation.
Beating the odds
A silver lining to this pandemic is that our interns' perspectives of the value of attending school, including being taught by teachers and hanging out with their friends, has heightened. The high school students will now move up to the next grade, and we are very proud of them.
Not all high schoolers do. And part of the success of the interns is due to the strong foundation of the work on Lookout Mountain over the past year: work that you have supported.
Being up on the Mountain means learning resilience, teamwork, communication skills, and how to be vulnerable. It means building self-esteem to push through the very difficult life-situations our Interns can find themselves in, at no fault of their own. That’s what they tell us, year after year.
A long-term commitment
I wanted to let you know that we stay in touch, and provide support, to those interns who graduate from our program after high school. As an example, two of our prior interns are now college freshman, and, despite the odds, they have excelled. They both agree that they will never skip a class after struggling with online classes. “Struggle” may be a stretch since both of them finished their first year of college with a 4.0 GPA. I hope you’ll join me it expressing our appreciation for all they have done and the odds they have beat with this extraordinary accomplishment.
Another part of their success was our collective effort to provide food for them and their families during this Shelter at Home period. Without school breakfasts and lunches, many don’t have adequate food. Without the work up on the Mountain, many of the Interns' families lack the funds needed to purchase basic necessities, like vegetables.
Your compassion and generosity make a difference
That’s why I want to thank those of you who have contributed. We are hoping to raise enough funds to provide each of the 20 interns, and their families, with basic nutritional food through the summer. To do so, we will need to raise an additional $10,000—funding we did not anticipate in our budget.
I want to thank those who have donated to help us provide food, mentoring, and support during this very challenging time. If you’d like to contribute now, please do. The continued success of the Interns depends on us providing the moral and emotional support and nutritional assistance they would have had when working on the Mountain.
In the meantime, thank you again. I’d love to hear from you.
Chief Executive Director