As students, teachers, and parents gear up for another school year, there are many organizations and groups reaching out to help provide supplies and ongoing support for the students. As , Freedom Fellowship Church in Dale City is collecting backpacks filled with school supplies to give to underprivileged students at four middle schools in the area, but it does not stop there.
What Principal Jehovanni Mitchell is really excited about is the church’s offer to provide mentors for the students as well, especially for the boys. “The backpacks with supplies are a big thing, because our school has a large number of students who need the supplies,” she said. “But even more so, our students, especially male students, need the component of having a male in their lives to help them create goals for themselves and teach them how to lead life on the right path without too many detours and making too many mistakes.”
Mitchell said many of the students at Godwin come from single-parent homes with no father figure. “Many of our young men need a male role model.” She estimated that around 50 male students from Godwin could likely participate in a mentorship program. The school has a partnership with another organization that provides mentors for the girls, so Mitchell is glad to now be able to provide that for the boys as well.
“Research shows that for children who have mentors there’s an increased rate of those students graduating from high school, moving on to college and not getting arrested or involved with the law,” Mitchell said. She said she was also glad that the church offered to build relationships with the parents as well, helping them learn ways to save for their kids’ college, apply for scholarships, and guide their children through education decisions.
Mitchell said Bethel AME church, right next door to the school, also annually provides school materials for students whose parents struggle to provide materials. If there still aren’t enough supplies, the school pays for the extra.
Principal Myca Gray of Saunders Middle School said it is “amazing the amount of help that people want to provide for kids to succeed.”
Along with FFC’s backpacks, Gray said Saunders also partners with Double Portion Ministries International and World Vision to provide school supplies for their students in need. In all, Saunders partners with 20 organizations that support the students and teachers in various ways—from tutoring to donating furniture for classrooms or concession stands for events.
“Especially in light of times when people are really conscious of their budgets, it just demonstrates how much people want to help,” Gray said. “It’s just getting out there, getting to know the community leaders and forming that partnership. When we let people know what the needs are there seems to be a significant willingness to support us.”