Have you ever worked hard to do something you felt was worthwhile, but nothing seemed to change or be better?
A friend, George Rogers Clark, has been toiling for years trying to return a sense of Christian morality to America. Last April he just gave up. Erick Erickson, who writes an online conservative magazine, had some of the same feelings.
I advised them that, “You just have to relax and let God lead you where he wants you to be.”
I have had some of the same feeling of concern with respect to the early childhood reading program I head. Dear friend Cathy Ritch found a brief article in the October 2013 Rotarian Magazine that lifted my spirits. Our program, Tools of Learning for Children, helps children learn how to read at an early age so that they can be productive, independent adults.
The sense of the article was this: A study by psychologists from the University of Edinburgh was published in the journal, Psychological Science. The study compared socio-economic and academic data spanning more than 50 years for 17,000 United Kingdom residents. Higher reading and math achievement at age 7 correlated with higher socio-economic status at age 42. For one jump in reading level, the difference in annual salary averaged $7,250.
Does teaching children how to read at an early age change lives and give folks better lives? This study emphatically says,”yes!” And I feel good about it.
Another event really heartened me. Each year, GreatNonprofits.org puts on a program to rate America’s nonprofit organizations, more than 2 million of them. The nonprofits are rated based on the reviews of people who are familiar with them. Very few organizations meet the standards qualifying them as being “Top Rated.”
I am proud to say that Tools of Learning for Children was “Top Rated” for the second year in a row. To put that in perspective, fewer than 2,000 of the more than 2 million nonprofits in America qualified. And Tools was in the top 10 percent of those that did qualify, based on the number of good reviews received. The reviews are really testimonials. It feels good to be recognized for the good works we do. And, it allows donors to feel confident that their money will be well used.
But something else warmed my heart even more. Good friend John Takeuchi invited me to a luncheon meeting with some folks from the St. Francis Mission. The Mission serves about 20,000 Lakota (Sioux) Native Americans in South Dakota. The mission and the mission foundation have developed a long-range plan to encourage sobriety, educate and create home-based work programs that can be performed without leaving the reservation or compromising the cultural heritage of the tribe.
Very isolated, the Lakota reservation is not unlike many Native American reservations, remote and barren with little work or income for the people. The program will probably take a generation to become fully effective.
I am convinced that mission president the Rev. John Hatcher will make it happen. I feel comfortable in making a personal contribution to the program. And the thing that makes me happy is that Tools of Learning for Children will help the mission’s school get off the ground by donating Frontline Phonics reading materials for the kids in the school.
A wonderful feeling. Is this a happy column, or what?
Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.