The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

July 29, 2013

Peggy Fuller, guest columnist: Bright Futures - Coming together for our kids

— A few days ago I had the great pleasure (and responsibility) of leading our Bright Futures Joplin Advisory Board meeting as the newly elected chairwoman.

I’ve served on the board since its inception in 2010, under the able leadership of Christie Barnhart from Missouri-American Water.

Our group of committed community leaders gathered around a conference table, as we do each month, and discussed projects and plans for helping the children in Joplin schools.

Many of us have been involved with Bright Futures Joplin from the beginning, some are brand new to our board and all are fully engaged and dedicated to the mission of Bright Futures: Partnerships inspiring educational achievement and developing community success.

You might be interested in some of the projects we are undertaking this year. We are working hard to recruit volunteers for mentoring programs, such as TREK, Lunch Pals and Read 180.

These programs match students with adult volunteers who are willing to spend time with a kid and be a great role model. The time commitment is minimal (30 minutes a week for a Lunch Pal), and the rewards are immense. I’ve been a TREK coach for about seven years and spend an hour a week with a fourth-grader who needs some attention and help with reading and math. It brings back lots of memories of my three Fuller daughters when they were little and is a rewarding experience for me.

We are always recruiting new business and faith-based partners. We will match you up with the school of your choice, and you attend the Bright Futures council meetings and work together to help the school with whatever they need. Time, talent, treasure are all appreciated. It’s not about money but about being a partner with the school.

Our social services partners are working with us to bring their expertise and services to the individual schools. They always have resources and professional help available in their particular area. Organizations like Children’s Haven, United Way, Economic Security Corp. and many others have been instrumental in helping us get Bright Futures going. We never want to duplicate services that are offered elsewhere but want to work with our partners however we can to make sure our Joplin kids are receiving what they need.

We are very fortunate to be financially stable and healthy. Bright Futures Joplin does not have independent non-profit status but operates under the umbrella of Joplin schools.

We have what is called an “activity account” that is completely separate from all school money. No taxpayer dollars are given to Bright Futures; instead, our budget is funded through the generosity of local companies and individuals, grants and donations from people all over the world who have chosen to help Joplin kids both pre- and post-storm. We also organize our own fundraisers, like the Kimble Anders Celebrity Golf Tournament, which allow us to pay for our programs. The Bright Futures staff of three are paid through a combination of our own budget and an AmeriCorps Vista grant.

We are so appreciative of the generosity of our supporters. Bright Futures has allowed many of us in the community to form relationships with teachers, principals and other partners.

 We often talk about the power of relationships and how “good things happen when good people come together to do the right thing for the right reasons.”

 We invite you to join us around a table, and help us make sure that every Joplin student leaves his or her school years ready to go out in the world, have a great career and be a productive citizen with an extraordinary life.  

Call us at 625-5200 or check out our website at brightfuturesjoplin.org. Everyone is welcome.

Peggy Fuller is the chairwoman of Bright Futures Joplin Advisory Board.

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