When I was young and quite unhappy, I attended a Quaker Meeting In Providence, Rhode Island, and a gentle Friend took me aside – I think I was 13 or 14 and he said that people could try to tear me down and knock me down at any time, but they could never keep me from getting back up.
He also said that the best response to evil was to do good. The more evil, the more good, until someone stops us.
Today, I take that message to heart and offer updates for the Army Of Good and their great works. The news knocks us down sometimes – often – but we just get back to work and hasten back to life.
Today, I introduce you to Jorsein Mayo, who is 13 years old and is from Thailand. He lives in a tough neighborhood in Albany, New York and has some severe learning challenges, his teachers worry that he is falling too far behind, his parents speak no English at all and love him but cannot really help him.
The staff is RISSE is worried about the dangerous choices troubled kids can make on those streets. And many of the families cannot pay the 4, 888 tuition. They try to keep the kids in school either way, but they are struggling too. They have to pay for supplies and teachers and transportation.
Jorsein is enrolled in the RISSE summer and after school program, where they know him, and he is comfortable, and he can get the tutoring and special work he needs, RISSE's staff is worried about him because when refugee children turn 13, and the federal subsidy that pays for their tuition at RISSE runs out.
I know Jorsein, he is a sweet and generous young man with a ready smile, and I see he does need some help, and urgently.
RISSE has more than a score of refugee children in that circumstance, they face a shortfall of $73, 320 dollars this Fall to keep these children in their school after they turn 13 where they can keep off the streets, supervised, and receive the tutoring and special teaching they desperately need, if they are to keep up in our public schools.
RISSE does not boot needy children out of their schools, but they need help in order to keep teaching them. They are advising me as to which children have the most urgent need. Jorsein Mayo is the first one they have asked me to help.
The federal government does not provide any support for these children after the age of 13, and the programs that do exist may be severely cut or curtailed by the new administration. At this age, the need is especially great, because their scores very much affect their future, and some of these kids simply drop out of frustration or failure. They can get lost.
I am not asking for $73,000 or anything like it, I respect your boundaries as well as mine. I think we can help, is all.
That is well beyond the big hearts even of the Army Of Good, but I would like to focus on a few of the children who are the neediest and try to offer several of them some help, so they can stay in school. My philosophy is one at a time, we fill one hole at a time.
Today, I am more dedicated than ever at fighting for some of the values we share. There are two ways to help Jorsein, who is also a member of the RISSE soccer team. You can contribute directly to RISSE on their website through credit cards or paypal. These contributions to RISSE are tax deductible.
Some of you are more comfortable sending me contributions to support these refugee children and the Mansion residents, and I will see that a portion of those donations also goes to Jorsein and some of the other refugee children in great need. I hope to support RISSE in a number of ways, but I am also getting to know the refugees well and wish to support them personally, apart from RISSE. Both are good ways to help.
It costs about $99 a day to pay for RISSE's educational programs, we can't pay for all of these kids, but we can help some, the ones whose educational needs are the neediest. You can also send your contributions directly to me, as some of you prefer. I am always looking for opportunities to help the Mansion residents and the refugees, young and old. Some of these activities are out of the scope of organizations and institutions – boat rides, clothes, amusement park and museum trips language and music classes, upcoming books of stories, air conditioners, retreats, trips to the movies, money for special tutoring and scholarships.
Please mark all contributions to me on your checks or paypal messages depending on your intention: some are for my blog, some are for the Mansion residents, some are for the refugees, some are for me to do as I think best for both. I like having that freedom – things change very rapidly in this work – and I will use it well and share the results, but it's up to you. Every penny goes where it is supposed to go, and if for some reason that isn't feasible (death, change, etc.) it will go somewhere similiar.
You can send those donations to me, c/o Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816, or via Paypal, [email protected] Out of those funds I am seeking to pay down Devota's loan, to buy all the carving tools Maliwulidi (and some other adult male and female refugees need), to send some Mansion residents outings like a boat ride around Lake George (something they have been dreaming about for a long time), to buy ice cream for their outings, household supplies, blankets and silverware, soccer balls, prayer rugs, parties, birthday celebrations, books, art supplies for Connie, Jane and the residents, to publish a book of their stories (Tales Of The Mansion) picnic tables for outside on the lawn, purchase soap and shampoo (we have enough) and support the individual needs of the residents – like a Bible CD set and CD player for Art.
We all have to manage our own lives and take care of ourselves first, before we can help others, so I do not expect miracles, or even success every single time. We do the best we can for as long as we can, and today I re-dedicate myself to that work. The more evil I see, the more good I will try to do. Thanks for coming along on this amazing trip.