Letting Four Year-olds Lead the way!

CEO Blog, Youth Philanthropy

17 November, 2017 at Acushnet, Massachusetts
Jim Stevens
CEO and Founder, GiftsToGive

OK – so it started off as a regular Wednesday morning.
I woke up, made my coffee, squeezed my orange juice, got on the elliptical bike, did my six miles, got in the shower, dressed and sat in my den to read the overnight dispatches and review my calendar and “things to-do list” for the day.

The morning I had been waiting for was here! An 8:45am meeting with a 4th grade class to talk about philanthropy.
I arrived at the Elementary School on time and was escorted to the basement. I knew something was up, that something was wrong, because the last time I was there to talk to the 4th grade they took me upstairs. Upon arrival in the basement, I was introduced to a pre-school class of 4 year-olds! Oops! I had the 4 correct, but it was an age designation, not a grade level. Twenty minutes later, I had twenty new friends and future voters, parents, leaders and  philanthropists. I left feeling like it was the best morning I have had, so far, all year!

On the drive to work, I was struck by a most powerful reality. Even though I had seen it in my children and in my grandchildren;  four year-olds are new – they are at the beginning of great discovery and altruism. It is the best, the absolute best.

I was stuck by another reality; that for a lot of these perfect, amazing four year-olds, their life circumstances and the influences around them would take hold and bend and shape them to what their environment expected of them. It chilled me to accept the fact that at the current rate about half their local contemporaries would not graduate from high school. That if the solution for the greater issue of child poverty was public education – then that was the easy part – having a healthy family to support that work was the real problem. The truth is that poverty has turned healthy families upside down and until a solution was realized the only immediate remedy is to build a more caring and connected community around all our children. The work we do at the factory, however tiring, is important, because after school is done for the day, what else influences these young minds?

I’m re-inspired to be better and to do more and to remember that even though we can help kids with a bag of stuff they need, we’ve got to invest more focus on the kids coming to the factory and get even more elementary-age children to visit.



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