Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
On May 30, I attended the graduation ceremony of The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Media, PA. I was there with the family of Khalaf Dow, who was graduating.Khalaf lived at Project HOME’s Rowan Homes residence, and spent years participating in programs at our Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs (HLCCTL).
His presence at the ceremony that day was the result of remarkable persistence, courage, and hard work. The commencement speaker at Williamson was Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. We were stunned when the Governor recounted the story of Khalaf and Project HOME in his talk.
“The path was hard,” the Governor said, “and it takes, as Khalaf reminded us, five values that underlie everything taught at this school: Faith, Integrity, Diligence, Excellence, and Service. But he is graduating today with the skills to succeed and a bright future.”
It was deeply gratifying to hear the Governor’s words. He was acknowledging the vision that was present when we first began dreaming over a decade ago of what would eventually become the HLCCTL. We were increasingly aware that the lack of quality education was a key factor in trapping young people and families in poverty. Our efforts to end homelessness and to do effective community development in an economically distressed neighborhood could not succeed unless we provided meaningful education and workforce development opportunities, for both adults and youth.
For 10 years now, the HLCCTL has been part of a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy. A critical component to the success of students like Khalaf is that they benefit from the combination of affordable housing and educational supports. Often, when families are mired in poverty, they are unable to seize educational opportunities even when they are available.
The HLCCTL proves that when the resources are available, all our children have a realistic chance to succeed. When families have stable housing and opportunities to enhance their work skills, all our neighborhoods can thrive. We are grateful that, with the support of so many amazing people and organizations, we have been able for ten years now to provide these resources to the great people in our community. We long for – and work for – the day when all our neighborhoods have adequate education resources and economic opportunities so all our citizens can achieve their fullest potential.
We believe, with a combination of public and private leadership and a serious investment in children from struggling neighborhoods,the success of the HLCCTL can be replicated on a larger scale. Thanks to all of the countless supporters, friends, and volunteers of the HLCCTL. Thanks for helping to create success stories like Khalaf’s and for sharing a vision of hopeful futures for all our young people. Let us continue to work together to create more success stories – which will make us all stronger.