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A Message from Kathleen Graham, Executive Director
UPDATED:  March 31, 2020

Dear Friend of SOWMA,

As part of our responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19, School on Wheels continues to adhere to strict safety measures to keep our students, volunteers and staff safe while ensuring students stay engaged and connected.

We are working with family shelter partners and state and local agencies to ensure our efforts to provide educational support and materials align with health and social distancing precautions. 

Below are program updates and ways you can help students continue to receive the guidance and tools they need throughout the coming weeks and months.  We will keep you informed as needs develop and events unfold.  In the interim, like all non-profit organizations, we are facing the need to maintain sustainability in order to continue serving our state's most vulnerable children and youth.  Any gift, no matter how small, will help immeasurably as we strive to meet that emergency funding need. 

Although our physical office is closed, we are working remotely and can be reached via the staff listing here.
Messages are also being retrieved at 508.587.9091. 

Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times.  We are grateful for those who have already pledged financial support for our ongoing efforts to provide academic, social and emotional support for students while keeping them safe and connected with learning. We invite you to continue to support our programs and will keep you apprised as our plans and activities unfold. 

With warm regards, 

Kathleen Graham
Executive Director 

MENTORING BRIDGE PROGRAM  
We have successfully transitioned 56 college students from campus life to a safe place to continue their studies. Most of these students are "unaccompanied minors," who do not have a permanent place of residence.  Mentors are communicating with students via email, FaceTime, Skype and Zoom. We are helping students with moving logistics and supplies such as bins and storage containers, and purchasing laptops and gift cards to alleviate financial burdens. If you would like to help by donating to our College Mentoring Relief Fund, please click here.
 
 
Currently our Tutoring Shelter Site Partners are assessing space accommodations and inventory needs. They report that children are engaged with SOWMA's lending library and current inventory of books, games and activities. Together we are in the process of developing, in conjunction with shelter management, an updated list of activity needs. We will keep you informed on these and other donations to help keep students engaged in the coming weeks. A special thank you to all of our volunteer tutors, like Dr. Heather Boxerman featured above, who gave students critical lessons on proper hygiene and hand-washing just prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. To help support our funding needs for upcoming workbooks and activity kits, click here.
 
We recently released a photo montage celebrating our 6,000th customized backpack delivered since the 2019/2020 school year began. You can see that here. We are deeply grateful for organizations such as Hope and Comfort, who have recently donated much-needed hygiene items to our backpacks as we develop delivery plans for the near future. We will be updating our AmazonSmile list within the coming days, and hope you will support our students while shopping online.
 
 
We are working with our partners and state and local officials to determine the fate of our annual Run, Walk or Wag, scheduled for May 2nd at Borderland State Park. We will keep you informed as decisions unfold. In the meantime, please give a salute to our sponsors, whose support makes this event, and our students' success, possible. Please see them here!



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Imani - College Student

“It's learning from someone who wants you to grow.” 

Imani is all smiles as we celebrate National Mentoring Month!  She shared her progress report before heading back to college for spring semester. Once a high school student facing homelessness, today she's beaming as a college junior and one of 56 college students in our Bridge Mentoring Program

Jim Whalen - SOWMA Mentor

“People who help get far more out of it.”

Recently retired after 45 years as an information technology specialist, Jim learned of School on Wheels through his church, Saints Martha and Mary Parish of Lakeville, MA.  He’s now guiding two young adults impacted by homelessness through a GED program. He’s also setting a noble example for his own grown children. “There’s a lot of hurt in the world and you don’t have to go far to help,” he said. Here's to one of our many unsung heroes and a salute to National Mentoring Month!

“Share your sparkle wherever you are.”  – Dodinsky

It was a busy year in SOWMA’s Community Room, where we receive, inventory and customize backpacks and school supplies.  This “Tools for School” program is part of our three-tiered Pathways to Success, which includes tutoring and mentoring in addition to school supplies. This year alone we outfitted more than 4,500 students with customized grade-level backpacks, a number that constitutes nearly 20% of the student homeless population in our state. 

None of this could happen without our volunteers.  Some, like those featured above, are graduating from high school or college, and will continue making a difference and sharing their sparkle as they pursue their next big thing! 

JONATHAN VINCENT FEELS THE EFFECTS OF THE LAST DAY OF TUTORING

Backpacks were replaced by SOWMA's Summer Reading Bags this week as more than 280 students  bid adieu to homework in exchange for summer break -
and the scene was bittersweet.

Our eighteen tutoring sites were ripe with fresh fruit, pizza and ice cream to mark the end of another wonderful year of academic achievement.

Thank you to our volunteer tutors, program partners and sponsors like Wells Fargo, all of whom are paving the way for a brighter future for kids. 

"Here in Massachusetts, we want to help support the needs of our neighbors and ensure youth in need have access to tutoring, mentoring and
educational opportunities," said Briana Curran, VP, Community Relations and Communications for Wells Fargo.

Celebrating our volunteers with a shout out to a few in 2019!  

We were honored to celebrate our many outstanding volunteers at an awards ceremony recently, courtesy of the Fine Arts Cafe of Brockton,
a catering venue at Brockton High School where food is prepared and served by the students.  

Mr. "Quack" authored this piece about his work as a SOWMA tutor.

by Kevin Quackenbush
SOWMA tutor

His small size belied the enormous energy he brought into the room. He arrived to work on his homework and read a bit before selecting one of the many games and learning activities that peppered the shelves.

Ja’Mai’s mom made that game plan clear to him upon arrival.  Still, his nature was to immediately investigate everything and everyone in the room and engage with them. Homework was low on his personal agenda.  

At our first meeting my goal was simply to establish a rapport with Ja’Mai. In that effort I had a leg up as my name tag read, ‘Ask Quack.’  We enjoyed a few minutes of the usual reaction over the name … initial disbelief, eventual acceptance and then introducing me to kids near and far as he bellowed “Quack.”  Instantly I became known as "Mr. Quack." Each week thereafter my arrival to the Conway House was heralded with a chorus of “Mr. Quack” from the kids.

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United Way of Greater Plymouth County

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School on Wheels - MA
100 Laurel Street
Suite 121
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 02333

508.587.9091

Federal Tax ID 20-1020880
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