Seeking Purpose: Where can we make an impact during this time of COVID-19?
As most of us retreat by adhering to COVID-19 physical-distancing and sheltering-in guidelines, we (humans) have been presented with an extraordinary opportunity of historical consequence to pause and focus our energy on purpose. This can be a complex process as some might grapple with the duality of their own privilege and awareness of the suffering that surrounds us. This pandemic is further illuminating social, economic, racial, and health disparities, bringing existing inequities into even more stark contrast with dominant systems of power and privilege.
The growing gap in health disparities holds a profoundly negative implication in the context of New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the nation with the highest rate of childhood hunger. According to the 2019 Kids Count Report, almost 25% of our youth 18 and younger face hunger and food insecurity on a daily basis under “normal” circumstances. As unemployment rates skyrocket and shelter-in-place orders remain active, experts are seeing spikes in domestic violence and child abuse. Many New Mexico residents don’t have the means to stock-up on groceries or even an actual personal physical space to call their own, where they can put these shelter-in-place guidelines into practice.
Bringing it closer to home, some members of our immediate Bosque School community are navigating new or growing challenges as a result of coronavirus. Others may have beloved family and friends who are facing severe health and safety issues.
This time of COVID-19 can result in a shift in thinking and action toward valuing all people regardless of background, economics, or physical appearance. Those considered “non-essential” in the past are now officially deemed “essential” and working on the frontlines. These people are our grocery store clerks, postal workers, food and package deliverers, funeral home employees, and transit workers. The pandemic is pushing our society to ensure that more people have their basic needs met. Now we are learning that every member of our society is important or “essential.”
Returning to the question of purpose at this moment in history, Bosque students and families are invited to engage in service to meet growing societal needs in and around Albuquerque. Typically, as humans, we gravitate toward tasks that engage our interests and skills and provide a sense of meaning. For this reason, several Service Learning initiatives, designed in close collaboration with long-standing as well as new partners, are being launched with individual agency and student choice in mind.
This week (on 4/22), all 9th,10th, and 11th grade students received information about our traditional Spring Semester volunteer event. The retooled Remote Project SERVE offers six options for remote service learning—from joining activist seamstresses, tailors, and aunties in face mask-making; or creating meaningful virtual experiences for youth who are Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled (IDD) through our partnership with Best Buddies; to supporting Cesar Chavez Charter School families who are facing severe struggles to meet basic needs (read letter to Bosque families from CCCS principal, Tani Arness here). Options also include an independent project choice for students who want to commit to a particular focus not represented in the offerings.
This weekend, all middle school students and families will receive an invitation via email to participate in one, two, or three service opportunities—arcing our COVID-19 services efforts across all grades for a school-wide effort. (For the past two weeks, 6th, 7th and 8th graders have engaged in small acts of kindness and service via their Service Learning classes.) Next Monday (4/27), our graduating seniors, the Class of 2020, will be called to action to support food justice through a commemorative remote service project that is aligned with years of senior service tradition.
Parents and caregivers, feedback tells us that families are seeking more opportunities to step away from devices, go outside, build and create, share in learning and experiences, and make meaning of this time. Start conversations with your students about social issues that concern them most. Ask yourselves where you might be needed; listen to community organizations, service partners, and city neighbors to tell us how. Discuss ways you can make a positive impact. Finally, review the various service opportunities delivered to you via email from Anna Rutins, director of Service Learning, and select one (or more) that aligns with your values.
What will be your COVID-19 story?
For further information, feel free to contact Anna Rutins via email.