by: Sophia Stio
Tuesday, March 7th
After working on one of the Habitat for Humanity homes with Ben for most of the day, we headed over to Quapaw Canoe Company where Lena, a former Habitat for Humanity supervisor, worked. Elvis knew Lena from his first trip to Clarksdale with George School students. During last year’s trip, a flood occurred, causing the canoe company’s basement to flood. George School students were notified of the flood and immediately responded by helping to move objects from the basement to the main floor to prevent them from getting wet. The students’ impact really helped the company, which has since redone their basement.
From the canoe company, Lena took us to Spring Initiative, which helps students who are struggling academically, or lack support at home. Three seconds after walking through the doors of Spring Initiative, an adorable little boy approached me with a huge smile. Rebecca, one of the coordinators for the organization, instructed Sophia and I to read with the child aloud. Yes, both Sophias helped; No, there was no confusion whatsoever. After finding the perfect table to read at, the boy opened up a notebook and wrote his name in it: Jamaren. At the bottom of the page, Jamaren wrote in big letters, “Goal.” I asked Jamaren what he meant by this. Hearing my inquiry, Rebecca walked over to explain that Jamaren had made it his mission to set daily goals to write a summary of whatever he read. His enthusiasm towards his work brought joy to both Sophia and me. During our short time with Jamaren, Sophia and I grew to love him. Every couple of minutes he’d take his eyes off of his book to ask us about our lives. Most of the questions were directed at Sophia. Jamaren was fascinated by the fact that Sophia spoke Chinese and was very eager to learn some new words from her. Jamaren picked-up on the language fast, repeating “Hi, my name is Jamaren” continuously for the remainder of our hour together. It was hard to say goodbye to such a great kid, knowing that both of us would probably never cross paths again… or so we thought.
Later in the evening, the founders of Spring Initiative came to our house to talk about their organization. Twenty minutes or so into the conversation with the leaders, we heard a car park in-front of the house. In walked Ms. K, a woman who had benefited from Habitat for Humanity. Behind her followed Jamaren, who immediately sat down next to me. The emotion behind Ms. K’s story made me realize how meaningful our work in Clarksdale is. What made the day even better was that on his way out, Jamaren took time to add Michaela, Sarah, and I on Snapchat, ensuring that we’d all be able to keep in touch with him.
Overall, it was an excellent day in Clarksdale, Mississippi.