Today’s adventure took me to Vision Preparatory Charter School, an elementary school located in Southwest Memphis, close to downtown. The school has a mission to provide a high quality education for underserved students in the Memphis area, and equip them with the skills needed to attain a college degree and become future leaders in the community. As soon as I walked into the building, I felt the positive energy. The inside was warm and inviting, and had a friendly, comfortable vibe. I met Mr. Benton, the school’s founder and principal, and he took me on a tour of the building.
During the tour, he pointed out the Vision Prep Core Values that were posted on the wall of each classroom – Focus, Integrity, Respect, Self-determination and Teamwork. Right in the middle of the list was Respect – one of my own personal core values, so I immediately felt a connection with this school.
The staff was busy getting ready for the first day of school, which starts on Monday. My role today was Handyman! I was to help assemble wooden cubbies for the students to store all of their belongings during class. Anyone who knows me knows that I am certainly no Mr. Fix It; however I’m pretty good at following directions. I tend to be a quick learner with plenty of patience. After working on my own for a while, Mr. Benton brought me a helper – a friendly young man named Yero. I was told he enjoys using the drill, so Yero handled anything that required the drill. We chatted a bit as we worked. I found out that he is going into the 8th grade at Soulsville Charter School. I told him, “Oh, that’s a cool school! I’ve seen them on the news.” He agreed, but wished they had a football team, because he wanted to play football. He said he liked science the most, and could play the drums.
It took us a while to get the first set of cubbies assembled. We had a few mishaps along the way. When Mr. Benton came by to check on us he helped us salvage the first unit. Yero and I were so proud we were able to salvage another unit that had been assembled earlier completely on our own. Mr. Benton asked if we were up to assemble one more unit, and we said, “Sure, if that’s what you need.” By this time, Yero and I were partners, and had developed a system. We knocked the last unit out in less than half an hour.
When my shift was over, I left with a good feeling. I had made a new friend, and I had helped an organization that is focused on the future of our community – the children. As a result of today’s experience, I’m starting to understand where my passion may be in the non-profit world. I truly felt a connection with Vision Prep’s mission and would like to explore how I can get more involved. One thing’s for sure – if I end up doing more handyman work, I hope I have my partner Yero to help me!
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