Sunday, August 26, 2018

New charity in Baltimore takes personalization of volunteering (especially mentoring) to a new level ("The Thread")

I haven’t seen an op-ed by David Brooks in August, but a late July piece in the New York Times, “Where American Renewal Begins”, certainly looks personally challenging. 

The piece describes an organization started in Baltimore by a biomedical graduate student, Sarah Hemminger.  It is called “The Thread”.   It seems to be affiliated now with AmeriCorps.
The group organizes volunteers as personal mentors to at risk high school students. 

It’s hard to tell from a cursory look at the site if it is present outside of Baltimore, in other cities. The site says that a volunteer should meet with a student at least once a week. But the article mentions the idea of “Head of Family” which suggests that the personal engagement is much greater than that. 

This is pretty heavy stuff, given my own history, for example, when I worked as a substitute teacher (2004-2007) in northern Virginia.  Generally, I am aloof with respect to seeking relations and see “playing family” as particularly challenging.

But there are provisions in my own trust, which I won’t get into here right now, that could lead me to become more involved in something like this. (For example, I don't know if any beneficiary organizations have ever considered starting something like this; but the "head of family" reminds me of Save the Children's idea of "sponsorship".)  But I need to finish the work I am engaged in first and see it through (the novel, screenwriting, and music projects I have discussed here under “strategic planning”). Yet, I can imagine a world where I (childless) have to demonstrate community engagement in a personal level to even be allowed to keep my own voice up.

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