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A Caring Tutor Helps Child With Math And The Impact Of Childhood Trauma

By Jim Wambach
June 25th,2019

A caring adult came alongside Nyesha and tutored her in math, but also made her feel safe again.

A caring adult came alongside Nyesha and tutored her in math, but also made her feel safe again.

Strong one-on-one relationship helps a vulnerable child to trust again.

This past fall, I experienced firsthand the impact of childhood trauma on a precious, vulnerable young girl. I began working with “Nyesha” (not her real name) as a math tutor in October. The hope is that a tutor’s first meeting with their student lays the groundwork for a caring and trusting relationship. My first meeting with Nyesha, however, was difficult for the young girl.

When I went to bring Nyesha to her first Path2Math clinic, I found her absolutely frightened, hiding beneath her desk and refusing to come out. It took some coaxing from clinic coordinator Michelle Hutcherson to convince her to join us. During that first session, Nyesha was timid and not always there in spirit. I found out much later that she was experiencing tremendous difficulty at home, where child protective services had frequently been called. For Nyesha, home was not safe and nurturing and, to protect herself, she had withdrawn into herself on that first day of tutoring.

“I think they bring a lot of trauma into the classroom.” – Alexandra Brandenburg, second-grade teacher.

Ms. Brandenburg, her teacher, explained that many of her students experience violence at home or in their community, or are being moved from foster home to foster home. “I think they bring a lot of trauma into the classroom,” she told me. “Whether that’s from domestic violence to previous childhood trauma or just experiencing poverty.”

Positive one-on-one relationships with adults help vulnerable children to develop trust and weaken the impact of childhood trauma.

Positive one-on-one relationships with adults help vulnerable children to develop trust and weaken the impact of childhood trauma.

The impact of childhood trauma makes it almost impossible for a little elementary school girl or boy to learn. Initially there was no place that Nyesha found to be safe, including “Math Club” (the unofficial nickname for the Path2Math clinic). I realized that it was critical for Nyesha to trust me and feel safe before we could move forward with any productive tutoring. Thankfully we had started down that pathway from day one (once Nyesha got past her initial distress) and the transformation week after week has been amazing.

Nyesha still gets distracted, and occasionally stares into space during our tutoring sessions. Once I give her the opportunity to process, she reconnects. We have established a confidence that we’re here for each other and now act as a team to step through her math workbook. It has become more clear each week just how smart and capable she is, and she’s no longer frightened! In fact, when she was transferred from one class to another, Nyesha asked me to ask her new teacher to allow her to continue coming to Math Club. She was thrilled when I said, “Of course!”

As tutors, we consistently find a strong one-on-one relationship with a caring adult not only enables struggling children to catch up to their peers academically, but also creates an opportunity for a vulnerable child to trust again. For these children, that’s more important than academic learning alone.

YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child rise above the impact of trauma. Let’s talk!

 I want help fund Faith Network tutoring and mentoring programs.

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

2019 Eddie College Scholarship Winners are a Spectacular Group!

By Eric Steckel
June 23rd,2019

2019 Eddie College Scholarship Award Winners

2019 Eddie College Scholarship Award Winners. Pictured (L-R) Nicholas Lu, Jordan White, Dave Sundman (Career Bridge Program Manager), Christine Zhou and Moises Gomez. (Hadiya Williams-Cain is not pictured)

For the past five years, it has been my pleasure to serve on the Eddie College Scholarship Award panel. The CareerBridge program was my entry point to Faith Network. The program – and the scholarship in particular – are near and dear to my heart. In my time, we’ve had some very special award recipients.

This year was a little different.

We selected five finalists to interview the first weekend in April. By the time the last student walked out the door, the entire panels’ heads were spinning.

All five finalists were hands-down deserving of an award. They were literally neck-and-neck. While each candidate had their own unique gifts, experiences and successes, they were a spectacular group.

“How are we going to decide between them?” we asked ourselves.

The good news? We did not have to decide. We had up to five scholarships to offer and we unanimously voted to offer a scholarship to each of our finalists. It wasn’t even a question.

“While each candidate had their own unique gifts, experiences and successes, they were a spectacular group.”

At our recent Hope For Children Now Gala, we honored these five special young adults. Allow us to share just a little bit about your 2019 Eddie College Scholarship winners, a truly spectacular group.

Moises Gomez – Moises, a 2019 graduate of San Leandro High School, enrolled in CareerBridge after participating in the rigorous Boost@Haas Program at University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Both programs, designed to open doors to a fulfilling career, have helped him prepare for college. His Summer internship at CALTRANS convinced him to focus on civil engineering studies. Moises, an accomplished baseball player, will matriculate to San Francisco State University in the Fall.

Moises Gomez selects the raffle prize winner at Hope For Children Now Gala.

Moises Gomez selects the raffle prize winner at Hope For Children Now Gala.

Nicholas Lu – Nicholas’ biology teacher raves that he is, “One of the most academically capable students, and yet humble and always willing to serve others.” Nicholas came to us from Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland. In addition to taking numerous college courses throughout high school, he participated in CareerBridge for the past two years as well as Boost@Haas. In 2017 he interned with Faith Network of the East Bay at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. At MLK, he worked with special needs children, which was an eye-opening experience for him. Nicholas, who’s parents immigrated from China through Vietnam, is eager to attend either UC Berekely or UCLA.

2019 Eddie Scholarship Award winners.

Jordan White speaks on behalf of her fellow Eddie College Scholarship winners. CareerBridge helps youth envision – and realize – a meaningful, fulfilling career.

Jordan White – Jordan came to CareerBridge after her mother, who works at BART, had hosted a CareerBridge intern in 2018. She suggested her daughter enroll. Jordan, who aspires to be a lawyer and politician, enjoyed an internship in BART’s office of general counsel. There she got a close-up look at life as an attorney. Like many students in our programs, Jordan had significant challenges to overcome in High School. CareerBridge was there to give her a boost of confidence and be part of her healing experience. After graduating from El Cerito High School, Jordan was awarded a full academic scholarship to attend Prairie View A&M in Texas.

Hadiya Williams-Cain – Hadiya, a 2019 graduate of Saint Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda, dreams of a future in public relations, marketing and advertising. In addition to excelling at school, Hadiya possesses strong leadership capabilities and was an accomplished volleyball player. She also gave back to her community in numerous ways. After a difficult experience her freshman year, she joined the school’s Link Crew Program, which is dedicated to helping underclassmen transition from middle school to high school. She also volunteered at organizations like Today’s Youth Matter, City Team Oakland, SJND Summer Volleyball Camp and others. Hadiya hopes to enroll at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Occidental College in Los Angeles or the University of San Francisco in the Fall.

Christine Zhou – Christine, a 2019 graduate of Piedmont High School, also came to CareerBridge from Boost@Haas. A first-generation Chinese-American, she split her weekends between Boost and the Chinese and American Student Educational Exchange Program (CASEEP), where she became president in her senior year. CASEEP helped Christene “find” her Chinese roots, form better relationships between China and the US, and inspire the next generation of Chinese-American children. Christine hopes to enroll at Duke Kunshan University (DKU), an international university jointly founded by Duke University and Wuhan University of China, where she can use her understanding of Chinese and American cultures in a career in international business management.

This just scratches the surface of what these five extraordinary students have to offer. We wish them much success as they move on to college and beyond.

YES, I CAN help an extraordinary youth go to college. Let’s talk!

 I want help fund Faith Network tutoring and mentoring programs.

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

Jordan Could Not Have Overcome Her Traumatic High School Experience Alone

By Eric Steckel
June 18th,2019

As I read Jordan White’s essay for the Eddie College Scholarship application, I was stunned by the traumatic experience she recounted. How could such overt racism be tolerated in an East Bay high school, where we pride ourselves on values of inclusion and community?

Jordan at BART

Your support of CareerBridge gave Jordan a much-needed
boost of confidence and a glimpse at an
exciting future.

When this smart, athletic and brave young lady sat down before the interview panel, we were eager to hear how she had persevered. Three years ago, her fellow students hung nooses from trees and posted images on social media that racially targeted and intimidated the small population of people of color at this largely white school. Among the abhorrent images were ones that personally targeted Jordan.

“It was people that I had called my friends. It was a rough patch in my life after that, rough for my mental health,” Jordan explained, tears welling up in her eyes. “I know I’m gonna think about that for the rest of my life because it’s just so horrible.”

The traumatic experience forced her to switch high schools. It challenged her sense of self and her confidence. “I had to renew my faith in God. I had to keep praying,” she said. “It helped motivate me to always want to help people, even if people aren’t standing up for you.”

“When you get a boost of confidence…that just helps you to flourish” – Jordan, CareerBridge Student and Eddie College Scholarship Winner

Fortunately, she had a strong support system. Jordan became active in a number of organizations to push herself academically and in her community. One of those programs was CareerBridge.

2019 Eddie Scholarship Award winners.

Jordan (at podium) speaks on behalf of her fellow Eddie College Scholarship winners. CareerBridge helps youth envision – and realize – a meaningful, fulfilling career.

The CareerBridge team helped her create a career plan and work on the details of achieving it, while encouraging her to see it through. In assistant program director Michelle Hutcherson, Jordan saw an image of herself as a successful career woman. Jordan, who aspires to a career in political journalism and politics, landed a plum internship in the BART office of general counsel. She got an up-close look at life as a practicing attorney, which helped her get a better idea of what she wanted to do.

“When you get a boost of confidence and you have a plan, and you have the right guidance, that just helps you to flourish. And that’s exactly what CareerBridge has done for me.”

Traumatic experiences like the one Jordan endured can permanently damage a person’s sense of self and their trust in other people. But thanks to your support, CareerBridge was there to give Jordan that “boost of confidence” and be a part of her healing journey. My fellow judges and I were honored to award her an Eddie College Scholarship from Faith Network at the June 1st Hope for Children Now Gala at the Oakland Rotunda. Jordan is looking forward to enrolling at Prairie View A&M in the Fall on a full academic scholarship. After struggling through traumatic adversity, Jordan has a bright future ahead of her.

YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child rise above. Let’s talk!

 I want help fund Faith Network tutoring and mentoring programs.

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

A Celebration of OUR Children Rising!

By Eric Steckel
June 11th,2019

June 1st was pretty special!

Hope for Children Now Gala - Children Rising

The Hope for Children Now Gala is more than just a fundraiser. It’s the Faith Network of the East Bay community celebrating OUR children rising.

We want to take a moment to thank all of you who contributed to our celebration of Children Rising. We could not have done it without your immense volunteer support and participation.

As we spent the last week or so catching our breath and reflecting on another wonderful Hope for Children Now Gala, we were reminded that the best way for us to celebrate OUR children rising is to come together, break bread and share stories of success.

The Hope for Children Now Gala is so much more than a fundraiser. It is a time for us to reconnect with friends, families, students and community partners. We are reminded that it truly takes a broad network of individuals and local organizations – churches, businesses, partner agencies and government – to come together to nurture and equip vulnerable children and youth to rise above the challenges they face in school and in life.

Pastor Tom Elson of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, who provided our invocation.

Hope for Children Now is a time for us to reconnect with friends, families, students and community partners like Pastor Tom Elson of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, who provided our invocation.

It was wonderful to connect with our church leaders, a couple of whom participated in our program. We thank Pastor Tom Elson, Mission Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, who opened our program with a touching invocation. We also thank Pastor Bernard Emerson, Lead Pastor at Tapestry Church, who sent us out into the evening with a closing blessing that had us buzzing with optimism.

“None of us got to where we are on our own. It was the result of others coming alongside us.” – Jonathan Mayes, Faith Network of the East Bay Chairman of Board of Directors

 

Jonathan Mayes, the chairman of our board of directors, challenged us to come alongside a vulnerable child.

Jonathan Mayes, the chairman of our board of directors, challenged us to come alongside a vulnerable child.

Jonathan Mayes, the chairman of our board of directors and Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at Albertsons Companies, touched everyone in the room with a timely reminder that none of us got to where we are on our own. It was the result of others coming alongside us. Jonathan owes a debt of gratitude to a couple of key influences when he was a grade-school student. Because of them, he visualized – and achieved – a rewarding career as an attorney, something he never dreamed of. His challenge to all of us was to open our hearts and come alongside a vulnerable child, each in our own way.

2019 Eddie Scholarship Award winners.

Jordan White speaks on behalf of her fellow Eddie College Scholarship winners. CareerBridge helps youth envision – and realize – a meaningful, fulfilling career.

We got to meet students like Jordan White and our four other Eddie College Scholarship award winners – Moises Gomez, Nicholas Lu, Hadiya Williams-Cain and Christine Zhou. Jordan, who experienced the trauma of overt racism in school, persevered and excelled in school. She shared how CareerBridge was there to give her a boost of confidence and be part of her healing experience. She looks forward to starting at Prairie View A&M next Fall on a full academic scholarship.

We also met Brooklyn, a second-grade Path2Math student struggling with basic math concepts, and the entire team who were in her corner – her teacher, Ms. Lillie Manning, her tutor, Mr. Paul Rathkamp, and her parents, Brandie and Greg Morton, and Michelle Hutcherson, our assistant director of the Path2Math program. Over the course of the school year, Brooklyn met with “Mr. Paul” week in and week out. As a result of her efforts, she developed math “literacy” in the second grade and is now ready to move on to the third grade. To honor Brooklyn and the significant progress she made this year, we presented her with a very special Certificate of Achievement.

Brooklyn, a Path2Math student, receives a special Certificate of Achievement.

Brooklyn, a second-grade Path2Math student, developed math “literacy” in the second grade and received a very special Certificate of Achievement.

Of course, we raised money!

Our first-ever silent auction kicked things off, as folks bid on artwork, vacation packages and more. That was followed by our annual raffle drawing – round-trip tickets from Alaska Airlines – for anywhere that Alaska flies in the U.S. and Mexico! The lucky winners were Tess and Michael DeLaSalle, a Path2Math tutor. Finally, our live auction and fund-a-need, led by muli-talented MC, auctioneer and Succeeding by Reading tutor Jim MacIlvaine, got folks’ hands in the air. The highlight was the week-long stay in an Italian villa, which five people snapped up!

Raffle winners Tess and Michael DeLaSalle

Tess and Michael DeLaSalle – a Path2Math tutor – were the lucky winners of 2 round-trip tickets from Alaska Airlines.

Thanks to you, we reached both our attendance goal AND our fundraising goal, which were significant increases over last year. Both milestones were crucial to reach as we continue to implement our strategic initiative to nurture and equip many more vulnerable children to rise above the challenges they face. However, it’s not too late to help us carry the excitement and enthusiasm forward!

Your donation this week will help more vulnerable children rise above the challenges they face in the upcoming school year.

As you can tell, we are all excited and eager to meet our ambitious goals. Thank you for being a part of our community. Because as Randy Roth was fond of saying, it’s all “For the children.”

PS: Check out ALL the photos from the Gala!

 

YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child rise above. Let’s talk!

 I want help fund Faith Network tutoring and mentoring programs.

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 

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