ICON-in-Class: How Would You Feel?
by TAYLOR JONES, Rancho Highschool
How would it make you feel to lack the basic necessities of life, things like food, shelter and clothing? How would you cope with having to worry about where you were going to lay your head down for the night? You would certainly find these circumstances unbearable — but today, many people have to deal with these problems.
Sadly, too few of us show concern for the less fortunate. Fortunately, I am blessed to have three people in my life who embody the importance of working on behalf of the homeless and less fortunate: my mother, Mr. Donald Tausendfreund, a teacher at Northwest Career and Technical Academy, and Ms. Angela Urquiaga, Rancho High School’s Title I HOPE Advocate.
From an early age, I saw that giving to the less fortunate was important to my family. My mother regularly gave donations of food, money and time — anything to ease their suffering. I wanted to follow in her footsteps, because it hurt my soul to see adults forced to sleep outside or ask for “a little change” just to survive. Even the bus ride to school touched my heart, because the route passed through a neighborhood where homeless men and women slept on cement.
Like my mother, I tried to help in whatever way I could, but coming to Rancho High School only heightened my awareness of the crisis. I had had always seen homeless adults, but when I arrived at Rancho, Mr. Tausendfreund informed me that a small percentage of my own peers also suffered from this heart-wrenching reality. These students slept in their cars, some in a graveyard, others in the school parking lot.
I was able to more deeply connect with the fact that they were my age and homeless. I wondered, “What if I had no food or clothes or a place to sleep?” The girl I passed in the hall, or the boy who sat next to me in class could be part of this suffering. This striking fact tore through my heart. Fortunately, Mr. Tausendfreund introduced me to Ms. Urquiaga, who gave school supplies to families that could not afford them, and provided them with coats in the winter and food throughout the year. From that moment on, I knew that any items I provided to Ms. Urquiaga would be given to those in need.
By expressing concern and compassion that is rarely found today, people like my mother, Mr. Tausendfreund and Ms. Urquiaga have inspired me to raise awareness of homeless students’ needs. All three make a point of considering the feelings of others, and make it their mission to ease the pain felt by people in adverse circumstances. To outsiders, their work may not appear to have an impact on this problem, but their efforts are not in vain — especially if more people are inspired to get involved.
These important individuals have changed lives dramatically with their contributions, and so can you! Anything you can give will not only help keep someone fed and warm, but will also warm your heart.
For more information on how to assist the CCSD Homeless Outreach Program for Education, call (702) 855-6682.