All of us at Manadoob work so hard to bring the Manadoob Social and Emotional Learning Program to as many children as possible each year. We take each location – each facilitator – each child personally. I suppose that is not the best or easiest way to run a business, but I don’t think we could do it any other way. When helping children is your goal – it is personal. Each year, it is a priority for us to visit with some of the facilitators and children who are completing the Manadoob Program. It is truly my favorite thing to do. It keeps me passionate and humble as I learn from the children each time. If I don’t stop and experience the ways in which Manadoob has helped children through our outreach efforts over the last decade I am not sure I could keep going. Believe me when I say that each visit is truly important, but from time to time I find myself in that special moment with that special child that can fill my heart with sorrow, compassion and ultimately an over-riding feeling of hope and joy that we are making a positive difference in the life of a child.
I wanted to briefly share with you one of my recent visits to a Boys and Girls Club site in California located near a military base. I entered the “Manadoob” room to find a beautiful and diverse group of children participating in Manadoob. Just before the class started a girl of about 11 came up to me to tell me how much she loves the Manadoob novel. (The novel provides the story and the basis for the Program.) The young girl was proud to tell me that she had read the novel not only once but twice. I thanked her and then settled in to watch and listen to the class. I answered many questions from the children, signed books and workbooks and then we all took a group picture at the end.
As we were finishing our group photo, the same girl came up to me again and told me how important Manadoob was to her. She explained to me her Mom died late last year and she didn’t know what to do or how to feel okay again but Manadoob helped her a lot. I reached down to give her a hug and she didn’t want to let go. I didn’t either. After I said goodbye to the children, the unit director told me that this child heard I was coming for a visit and she had been waiting to tell me this for weeks. The unit director shared that this child’s mom was in the military and she died during active duty. Of course the little girl was devastated but no one could reach her. She wouldn’t open up to express or share her feelings. Manadoob touched her in a way that allowed her to cope and share and begin to understand how to deal with her mom’s death. It is in these moments that I truly understand why we are on this path and how all of our efforts helps us to reach and help children through Manadoob.
With all of the horror and tragedy that we are surrounded with these days, it feels so very important that we can do our small, but truly important part in helping to make the world a better place by reaching, enriching and empowering the lives of children. So with tears in my eyes, I say thank you to all that are a part of our journey. We promise to put all of our energy into reaching more and more children as we continue on…