Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mckenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation

Out of a tragedy rises a legacy of hope.  McKenzie Noelle Wilson, the beautiful young daughter of Blake and Stephanie Wilson died suddenly - cutting short the promise of a future filled with love, caring and hope.  The Wilsons could have chosen to spend the rest of their days mourning the senseless loss of their faith-filled daughter, but they chose instead to start a foundation in her memory that would embody all that she was.  It is such a n honor that they have chosen the nae of their beautiful daughter to put on the center where we first began tutoring.  It is indeed humbling.

The Foundation raises money through the sale of LiveNGrace bracelets, the 5K McKenzie Run, and various projects through Kenzie Clubs all over Jacksonville.  The money is used for an orphanage in Africa and to support two MARCs (McKenzie Academic Resource Centers) in town - one of which is in the Portside Community that services Chets Creek Elementary, where I teach.

Debbie Harbour, one of the
MARCs most dedicated volunteers.
Teachers at Chets Creek volunteer their time at the MARC.  I volunteer on Mondays during the K-1 day for two hours each week with two other very faithful and dedicated  Chets Creek kindergarten teachers and a retired Speech Pathologist.  I mostly work with six of the children from my own class who come faithfully.  I have met their families - had conferences because I could easily grab a sister or aunt as an interpreter (most are second language learners).  I have met their older brothers and sisters who often pick them up at the end of the day and their baby brothers and sisters.    For one of the children in particular,  the extra tutoring meant the difference in him passing or failing kindergarten.  I was able to work on skills prescriptively, knowing exactly what each child needed. The children seem more at ease at the MARC.  They laugh easily - they kid with each other - and they share deep personal things.  That intimacy carries over into the classroom.  They know me as more than a teacher but as someone who cares deeply (and someone who will tell their Mama if they get out of hand!)

Teachers from Chets who were able to attend tonight's Awards ceremony

Tonight the Wilsons invited all the volunteers from their many programs to the Schultz Center as a thank you for giving time and talent to children.  They reconnected us with the mission and with the memories of a beautiful young girl who left well before her own mission was complete.  As I sat there, and wondered how the Wilsons get through such a ceremony that honors the one that they loved so dearly, I wanted to say to them - We should be giving you the award.  It is an honor and privilege to be at the MARC and to carry on the work that McKenzie herself was never able to finish.  I hope they know what it means to be able to have a clean, cool place to spend a few hours each week with children that you care about.  And...  I hope McKenzie is smiling.  I know she must be so proud!

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