Tuesday, March 29, 2011


 By Lois Jamieson
Sometimes an opportunity to do something quite different will come your way. At a younger age you wouldn’t hesitate to try it out. To stretch yourself. To “get in the boat” and cross over to the something new that is calling to you. But when you are nearing the age of eighty, you hesitate, not sure if you’re up to the challenge. However, if the call is strong enough you know you at least ought to give it a try.

Six years ago, at the age of seventy five, my daughter Jan, knowing I was looking for a new avenue to direct my energy, called me to say she knew just the place for me. Jan was then the superintendent of the StarShine K-12 charter/public schools aimed at educating and serving at-risk children. The “place” she thought would be perfect for me was at one of these schools. The school was located in a crime and gang infested community.  She needed a school librarian, but had no funds to hire one.

“Wait a minute” I shouted over the phone. ”First of all I am not a librarian. I have no credentials. I wouldn’t know what to do. Remember I have visited this school and I know it sits next to the worst gang park in Phoenix and in the highest crime rated zip code in the city.” Her response was simple. “Mom, you love books and you love kids and I need you. The school is a perfectly safe place.” What could I do but say, “Okay, honey, you’ve got yourself a librarian.”

So now I had one foot in the boat. But the other one was stuck on dry land in my very safe familiar community in Scottsdale. Whatever your age, and whatever their age, you never stop doing things for your children. So, in went the other foot and I found myself sailing off to a new adventure.

And a great adventure it has been. 

I am now in my sixth year spending time with 130 mostly Latino kids who live below poverty level in an at-risk community.  I’m still the librarian, but I have added an after school Fashion/Etiquette Club for the high school girls and a Manners Matter Club for the 8  to 12 year old girls.

I don’t know how long I will have the energy and good health to carry on my work at the school. I do know that I have been blessed to have been given this opportunity. Do yourself a favor and get in the boat.  You may find that often the greatest discoveries come when you venture into uncharted territory with no map.
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1 comment:

  1. In Judiasm, the phrase "Tikkun Olam" means to heal the world. The concept of "Tikkun Olam" encompasses both the outer and the inner, both service to society by helping those in need and service to the Divine by liberating the spark. "Tikkun olam" has come to connote social action, community service and social justice.

    Your combined story of running and working within a charter school that provides an enriched learning environment for disadvantaged and "challenged" children exemplifies "Tikkun Olam" on many levels. Not only do the children benefit, but you as mother and daughter continue a multi-millenia old tradition which benefits you both on a personal and familial level. Brava! Ira Maurer