For my birthday this year, my brother and sister-in-law made me a beautiful piece of wall art. It says, “Believe there is good in the world.”
The first few letters of each line are painted a different color than the rest, highlighting a message within the message.
It’s a simple reminder that everyone can have an impact on the world, and it takes two parts – believe good exists, and then prove it.
Treveda Redmond is one of the people doing just that. Redmond is an eighth-grade language arts teacher in the DeKalb School District. I met with her last week to learn more about the second annual Back to School Celebration she is coordinating at Welsh Park in DeKalb on Aug. 9.
In about 14 years of teaching, Redmond said she has seen the students who come every year with only a few school supplies. She sees the kids who come to school hungry, or who can’t do their homework after school because they’re responsible for taking care of younger siblings while their parents work.
Redmond’s goal with the Back to School celebration is just to level the playing field, to take away some of those obstacles and let the kids focus on their school work.
“My goal is to put all the resources these families need in one place to go through the school year successfully,” Redmond said.
Even as Redmond was dealing with an illness last year, she was working the phones, lining up sponsors and partners to make the celebration a reality.
“I believe in the African proverb that says even as you climb, you reach back and pull somebody else up with you,” she said. “Giving back to the community is important.”
The location was no accident – Redmond said the first celebration was initially slated to be held on the Northern Illinois University campus, but organizers realized just getting there would be a challenge for the families they’re trying to help. Welsh Park is located near several low-income neighborhoods and housing complexes; near enough, Redmond said, that families without transportation can walk.
“If people are already worrying about how am I going to get my child’s school supplies, how am I going to get to the grocery store, we didn’t want them to have to worry about how to get to this event,” she said.
At the event, families will receive school supplies and food from a local food pantry. They can also get free back-to-school haircuts, blood pressure checks, and information about local resources to help with living expenses. But the whole thing is wrapped in a party atmosphere, with a DJ, bounce house, face painting, and a fire truck for children to explore.
It’s a community event, Redmond said, and she wanted it to feel like a celebration, where people just happen to leave with things they need.
The world needs more Trevedas, more people willing to step up and be the good.
Read about the Back to School Celebration on page 11.
Enjoy your MidWeek.