It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
(5.28.14) It takes a village to raise a child. As I type those eight words, I realize how nonspecific this oft-used African proverb actually sounds. While we all know that this proverb implies that individuals outside the family unit can have a profound impact (positively or negatively) on a child’s well-being, it also assumes that the villager knows what role to play, or the specific tasks necessary to support this child.
This past February, Saint Luke’s Foundation returned to its roots in the Buckeye neighborhood as a co-tenant in the repurposed Saint Luke’s hospital, now called Saint Luke’s Pointe. Saint Luke’s Pointe is a village (actually a city block) that is home to the K-8 Harvey Rice School; the Rice branch of the Cleveland Public Library; Saint Luke’s Manor, a senior living facility; The Intergenerational School; Cleveland Neighborhood Progress; the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland; and the Saint Luke’s Pointe Club. The Plain Dealer’s Art and Architecture critic Steve Litt called the project “a compassionate vision that combines historic preservation, strong contemporary architecture and urban design, high educational aspirations for Cleveland’s children, affordable housing and an emphasis on mass transit. That’s a lot of wins for a single development.”
As members of the Greater Cleveland community, we at Saint Luke’s Foundation proactively seek ways to partner with our colleagues, neighbors and other community stakeholders. In addition to serving as an early funder of the United Way and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Wraparound Strategies for Academic Achievement, we felt the need to create even further impact. Thankfully, we had a mechanism in place. We reached out to Tanese Horton, the Harvey Rice School’s wraparound specialist. Ms. Horton’s job is to engage with families and the community in order to help our children succeed beyond the classroom setting by fostering connections and resources for families in communities themselves. In Ms. Horton, parents have an outgoing, friendly, caring coordinator who understands the neighborhood and can relate to the children. At our first meeting, we learned about her plans and goals to attract resources and to rally community support for the students. Her work aligned clearly with the Foundation’s three program areas of Healthy People, Strong Communities and Resilient Families.
In the near term, Ms. Horton invited us to join in an on-site celebration of the Pre-K, K and 8th grade graduations.
How could we say no?
We reached out to LAND Studio, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Panic Steel drum band, and our friends at Vitamix who kindly donated blenders to the school to foster healthier eating through its school smoothie grant program.
We asked these stakeholders to help us generate ideas, talents and treasures that could support community engagement and connectedness during these important academic milestone events.
The result: delicious smoothies, the sweet sounds of a live steel drum band, proud parents, and prideful teachers celebrating the attainment of academic goals. More importantly, the students really felt the support from the community.
As villagers, we must continually ask this simple question: how can I help? One way is to reach one of the wraparound specialists in a neighborhood school district; it’s likely they’ll have some inspired ideas.
Click here to learn more about CMSD and United Way’s wraparound work.
Click here to learn how Vitamix partners with CMSD programs.
By: Nelson Beckford, Senior Program Officer for Strong Communities