It takes a village …
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
As the old proverb cleverly points out, more people influence a child’s rearing than just their mother or father. The quality of that influence, however, rests in the mentor. With gangs, drug dealers and a wide assortment of ne’er-do-wells always roaming communities looking to implant their philosophy, it takes men and women of purpose to combat the negative influences and provide a safe village for all our children.
“I wasn’t always the one to do right,” the Rev. J.D. Roberts, founder of Save Our Children, Children in Motion, told The Examiner following one of the organization’s many charity events to date in 2012. Roberts said as a youth, he made many mistakes, mostly from not knowing any better. “I want to do for these kids what I wish someone had done for me when I was their age.”
Roberts has spent the last several years at the helm of the S.O.C. nonprofit, which has sponsored dozens of campers at Lamar University summer programs, honored the scholastic accomplishments of Beaumont and Port Arthur students and athletes, hosted educational events, facilitated individual mentorship and counseling sessions and continuously preforms a laundry list of benefits too lengthy to detail. But above all, he says, he gives the kids love, support and an open ear to talk to.
“These kids will be running America someday,” Roberts said. “I want them to be prepared for the job. They can’t learn if we don’t take the time to teach them.”Roberts took his appreciation for education on the road to two Beaumont schools as classes were coming to an end for summer break, surprising students at Charlton-Pollard Elementary and Mae Jones-Clark Elementary campuses with special guests, accolades and presents. Among those honored at Charlton-Pollard were Tiandra Jones and Makayla Gans.
“As the year comes to an end, her teachers will agree that she is sweet, hard-working, has great behavior and her grades have improved greatly,” counselor Earline Mitchell said of third-grader Jones, the campus’ Most Improved Student. “Tiandra gives 100 percent effort in learning, and teachers enjoy working with her. We are proud of her accomplishments this year.”
And while Jones has overcome academic weakness to achieve success, Gans was awarded for continuing scholarly superiority year-round, starting off strong, and finishing even stronger.
“Academic excellence describes Makayla Gans,” Mitchell said of the fourth-grade honor student who took home top accolades for her accumulated academic achievement. “She is focused and self motivated. She is a hard-working and well-behaved leader of her peers. This role model of a student has shown these characteristics throughout her school years.”
Each of the girls were praised by school officials in front of their classmates and guests, then each merit winner was given a few tokens to assist them on their journey. A champion medal and plaque awaited each, but the girls were taken aback when they were presented with new bicycles.
“Along with each bike is a helmet to protect their mind, the Bible to protect their soul and spirit, and a bicycle lock to protect their property,” Roberts said. But the gifting wasn’t over.
At Jones-Clark, fourth grade transfer student Jordan Veillon was commended for being the Most Improved Student, and top boy and girl students Fredrick Bush and Miracle Haynes were each awarded the bicycle package akin to their Charlton-Pollard contemporaries. Haynes, who is a member of the choir, student council, Diamonds and Gents and UIL, is described as first and foremost a “good citizen.”
S.O.C. board member Lewis Vaughn said of Haynes’ citizenship, “We should all strive to be as much.” He said the desire to be a good citizen is aquality to be fostered and admired, and he applauded the 10-year-old for focusing on becoming not only a quality student, but a quality human being as well.
Top Jones-Clark student Fredrick Bush was also the recipient of more than a few kind words of encouragement to go along with his new ride and extras.“He was so far out there, nobody could touch him,” Principal Jackquelyn Lavergne said of the campus’ Highest Academic Achiever. “He is All-A Honor Roll, a great peer tutor, is well-read, a UIL contestant, and loves learning.” Lavergne said Bush has a giving spirit, spending free time to help his classmates as a teacher assistant, and has future goals of teaching or entering the medical field. Roberts sees Bush’s desire to help others as a good sign for the future.
“Someone will have to take over where I left off someday,” Roberts said, adding that his prayer for the future of Save Our Children is that the organization nurture youth who keep the program alive and serve the community for many years to come. In the interim, a small “village” of sorts helps to make S.O.C. what it is today. At the Jones-Clark event, judges Gerald Eddins and Jeff Branick showed their support by attending the function and congratulating the students on a job well done. Also in attendance at the celebrations were S.O.C supporters Vaughn, Christine Dominick, attorney Kevin Lane, H-E-B manager Larry Johnson, Larry Parkerson and others.
“We all work to make the kids’ lives a little better,” Roberts said. “Without every person in this organization doing what they do, there’d be a lot less done. I’m thankful for the volunteers and supporters we have, and for the kids who make what we do rewarding.”
Save Our Children and civic partners will have a community event July 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse, focusing on acquainting 7-18 year olds with the inner workings of the governmental agency. Anyone is invited to attend with free admittance, free lunch, and door prizes such as flat screen TVs and bicycles provided for participants. RSVP for the event or sign up to volunteer at (409) 554-0164 or robertsjd [at] yahoo [dot] com.