Guest post by Marissa St. Laurent, Communications Coordinator at New Hampshire Children's Trust -
Living a block away from an elementary school, my mornings often begin with little feet clambering down the stairs and treble voices chirping outside my window. So much of the students' morning rituals have become routine for me, but one day this routine was interrupted.
A young boy dawdled down the street, chin tucked to his chest. I continued to my car, not thinking twice about it.
"You're looking down today, Dylan. Why are you so sad?" the crossing-guard asked the boy.
He shrugged, but she wasn't going to take that for an answer.
"Hey, buddy. What's wrong?" she insisted, bending slightly to meet his gaze.
The boy quietly explained that he didn't have anything to eat. His simple explanation didn't hint at whether he meant he just hadn't eaten breakfast that morning or there wasn't any food to be eaten in his house.
My heart felt heavy. I searched my brain for what I could offer him, but all I could come up with were the two browned bananas deserted atop my fridge, destined to join all of the other dead bananas in the back of my freezer that I would "one day make into banana bread."
"Well, let's go to the office and let them know you need some breakfast," the crossing-guard suggested, grabbing his hand gently.
But the boy shook his head and continued his way to the school, chin once again tucked to chest.
"Are you sure?" she called after him.
He turned around only briefly to nod in the affirmative. Class would begin soon.
The crossing-guard watched him go, clearly affected by the interaction.
The point of sharing this interaction is not to make a point about child hunger or poverty or really anything sad – it's to punctuate a statement I'm sure you've heard a million times: "All it takes is one caring adult."
It's true. In fact, caring communities are full of these caring adults. After parents, teachers are often most lauded for being children's mentors and cheerleaders, but we tend to overlook other not-so-obvious caring adults in children's lives.
I've watched this particular crossing-guard direct and interact with these children every school day for the last year. She knows many of their parents, their names, and who's friends with whom. Beyond caring for the safety of these children, she cares for who they are as people.
Many people have daily interaction with children, putting them in a great position to be a part of a caring community that supports the wellbeing of children and families. Crossing-guards, bus drivers, teachers, lunch ladies, afterschool providers, coaches – the list goes on, and we should take a minute to make two considerations.
- What can I do to be that one caring adult for a child?
- Have I shown gratitude for and fostered relationships with the caring adults in my child's life?
We cannot be in our children's lives 24/7, but when we work together to cultivate caring communities that support children and families, we are putting them in the hands of people who truly care about their neighbors, families, friends, and the prosperity of our future.
Caring communities, strong families, and great childhoods begin with all of us. We're all in this together. This is our village.
About the Author
Marissa is the Communication Coordinator at New Hampshire Children's Trust joined NH Children's Trust in 2015. She received her BA in Public Relations with minors in Journalism and Gender and Women's Studies from SUNY Plattsburgh. She is a New Hampshire native who can be found enjoying the seacoast and White Mountains in her spare time.