Currently I am an Art teacher at Enterprise Elementary in Volusia County where I have over 600 students and I see them all once per week for 45 minutes. When the schools closed and we moved to an online format I was amazed by the work some students produced on their own. I have two students who were drawing, painting, making pottery and even designing water bottles and travel mugs with two-part epoxy (...Wow!). This was well beyond my expectations. But to contrast their abilities I struggled to balance the concern I have for several homeless students whose parents panhandle at I-4 and stay at the local Travel Lodge. These students drew pictures on hotel stationary with ball point pen. As a teacher it is heart breaking to measure these efforts knowing the resources each family has. I believe the art work of the students to be parallel and all deserving of high marks.
As I watch the world respond to the Covid-19 crisis I was reminded of the incredible ministry Father Stephen and Mary Dass do in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They work with homeless street children from the favelas (slums) on the outskirts of the historic city. They have been providing this ministry for seven years and are part of The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. The Dass’ teach and minister to the children and youth who find refuge in the streets of the old city. Most are not orphans but are victims of neglect and abuse in their own homes. They live in alleys and create temporary shelter from discarded materials. Father Stephen and Mary provide a safe space for them to interact with adults who are not trying to extort or manipulate them. The children stay up throughout the night and sleep from sunrise until noon for their safety. The Dass’ spread a blanket with coloring books and games for them to share on the plaza of the Catholic Cathedral in the historic district. They also work to provide food and medical attention for the children. Several buffet restaurants place their leftover food from the lunch service on tables in the back alleys for the children to eat before they reset for the dinner buffet. Unfortunately, those restaurants are closed because of the pandemic and now many have to beg or scavenge. Many of the children have scattered and cannot be found but Father Stephen has been able to communicate with some who have old cell phones that can get an open Wi-Fi signal using What's App. It is their hope to set up group homes and safe places for those most at risk.
My goal is to raise $20,000 for the children of Sao Paulo. I see neglect and abuse in my local school but nothing on the scale that is occurring in Brazil. I cannot go into the mission field but I can walk for and support those in need. Please partner with me to help God’s children.
I will begin my walk at Cape Canaveral 7/10/2020 (walking 15 miles per day). I hope to complete the Journey in St. Pete at The Pier on 7/31/2020.
PO Box 4021, Enterprise, FL 32725
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