Most people are clueless when it comes to what so many children go through to succeed in school. They come to school having to navigate adult-sized problems, from abusive environments and the hardships of poverty, single-parent households, homelessness and more. They come as they are, from neighborhoods many don’t even want to drive through, less live in. Communities in Schools serves students who need caring adults advocating for their success. We surround our students with a community of support and bring communities together to leverage support for our students.

Recently, a lady reminded me that hope is important because it can make the present moments less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear the hardship today. Every 9 seconds a young person drops out of school. For over 40 years, CIS has made a difference in the lives of students, over 22 years, in Galveston County. This year, Hurricane Harvey has made it even more difficult for students and families. With many of our students living in hotels or in homes with multiple families, we knew we had to do something to bring a little hope for Christmas.

Our Hardship to Hope banquet enabled us to provide Christmas to 108 students. Our community really supported our efforts. Our CIS National President Dale Erquiaga came to present our keynote address. CIS affiliate programs from across Texas sponsored tables so that our children and their parents could attend. Christmas is about giving, and while these programs were handling issues of their own, they gave to support our children. Our founder said many years ago that relationships, not programs change lives.

In the richest country on earth, half the students qualify for free lunch. Race and poverty work together to create obstacles for kids. When they face these obstacles, trauma often results. Children don’t know they’re poor, or anything about racism, or trauma; they just know things keep happening. CIS cannot do this alone. We depend on you, our partners and supporters. Christmas is the season of giving, but the need is still there after Christmas. Erquiaga shared a story about the house being on fire that is so appropriate. He witnessed a house burning when he was young. Everybody did something. Someone called for help. Neighbors comforted and consoled. Someone even ran into the house to save items. Everybody had a role.

CIS works a lot like that! Our neighbor’s house is on fire! Every day, half a million children drop out. If that’s not a fire, I don’t know what is. What role do you play? Do you call for help? Do you comfort and console? Do you bravely rush in? The house is on fire! Will you do your part to rescue kids and to save lives? Will you invest in our children?

You may begin by participating in our Lunch with a Leader event Feb. 21 in Galveston, and on the mainland on March 9. To sign up, call 409-765-5395.

Connie Hebert is the executive director of Communities in Schools Galveston County.

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