I have heard them call her “The Crazy Lady” to their parents, her supervisors, and fellow children who have not meet her. She does not always hear them because while they converse, she is focused on the location of the 409 cleaner that has become her side kick. Whether she is wiping off a table that has become the canvas to a future Picasso, a sink that holds their main utensils of dirty paint brushes or quickly wiping a spot off of the floor. The same spot that she just swept to remove the chips, dollar candy and the occasional crust-less peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The current task for her, at this particular moment, is not to mingle with the ones that think she is unstable but to clean up before the next mess occurs.
I do not believe she is crazy like the children claim. It is her unique way of implementing nontraditional activities, the children are not familiar with. Instead of the ordinary games, she is teaching them about different variations of acting such as improv, being a part of democracies, public speaking, and even inventing new games. I have watched her quietly instil leadership skills, goals and acceptance in them, with a smile and catch phrase. I have been with her as she filled up water balloons for the children at night for “Water Days” and organized trips in her free time. In the cases of these children, most who are dependent on government assistance and reside in a low income areas, her ways are initially foreign to them. In time the children stop questioning her ways, adjust to them and enjoy themselves.
It’s through their fulfillment she finds her own, just as she sees the same pieces of her own past. In her early teens, she found herself not in a dire but similar situation as the children she works with. Finding herself waiting in lines for government assistance, hoping for Medicaid and even inconsistent food stamps with a mother who was laid off and expecting. The memories of being turned away as a result of missing documents or being told to “eat light” because of a cut in food stamp money, linger in the back of her mind and reappear the moment she starts to slack.
Instead of taking this as a setback she took it as multiple lessons, the first being to never get comfortable, and the other that : It isn’t where you start; it is the work ethic that you put into finish. From that moment forward, that is just what she did-worked. She would continue to do so, even ten hours away from home during her undergrad she would balance both school and work, while financially assisting her mother whenever possible. This type of work ethic influenced her perspective on academics. Realizing that she was becoming comfortable she made the decision to challenge herself with a heavier work load, by choosing two minors. By making Political Science her major, she wanted to learn about the government that she and other families had depended on, in order to be the change in it.
She understood the task would not be easy without the...