We had a student that lost his aunt in December, who was his guardian. The aunt had been ill for most of the school year. The student had missed a lot of school to help care for the aunt and to make money to support them both. By winter break, the aunt’s condition had declined to the point that she needed to be placed in a nursing home. We used a portion of the holiday fund money to make sure the student had food to eat over the winter break. When we returned from break, the student informed us that his aunt passed, and he lost his home, car, and job for reasons that were out of his control. The student needed basic necessities, food, boots, gloves, and a winter coat. The Foundation supplied all of these items. The student’s instructor gave the student one of his old cars, and the Foundation helped the student with the insurance start up and initial fuel costs, so the student would have transportation to school and the job his lab instructor help him secure in his career field.
We had a student on our Campus who was a man’s man, and rarely asked for help. One day he confided to a teacher that he and his father were suffering financial hardships, and were struggling to keep food in the house. We used Foundation funds to purchase him Meijer gift cards. One day this very proud young man walked resolutely into my office all dressed in his work boots and rough jeans. Standing there, with tears in his eyes, he said, “Please tell whoever made this happen thank you.” In this unexpected moment, I knew we had found another way to change lives.
We had a straight-A student who was living with a friend and his family for most of the school year. There were issues at home and she was fortunate enough to find help. She worked after school and on weekends to save enough money to purchase a car so she could meet her job obligations. One day when she left school to go to her job, her car would not start. We tried everything (replaced fuses, used jumper cables), but to no avail. It turned out that she needed a new battery, which she could not afford. She was devastated. We used Foundation money to purchase a battery. A teacher arranged for delivery and installed it for her. She made it to her job, and understood that we were willing to take that extra step to support her success.
One of our students was facing terrible hardships. Her sole guardian had died and, at 16, was living in her car. After many absences, she finally talked with a teacher. We used Foundation money to help her. We supplied her with food and paid for her uniform, fees and online makeup classes. Her story is incredible. She earned her STNA certification, is working on additional credentials, and is employed. In May, she will graduate. I do not want to even think about what might have happened to her without the help of our Diamond Oaks staff and our Great Oaks Foundation.
We have a student with special needs that is facing many obstacles, including poverty, potential homelessness and familial drug abuse. She faces all these obstacles while transitioning into adulthood. Because she resides in an area having minimal public transportation, she walks nearly everywhere. One day we discovered that her only pair of shoes were worn through with holes. Thanks to the Great Oaks Education Foundation, we purchased her two new pairs of shoes and socks that day. To this young woman, what may seem a small gift to us, was life-changing for her.