Little Victories In The Ordinary

Betsy ManningBetsy Manning’s roots with Community Care Fellowship extend back a decade. Along with her Sunday School class, she and her husband served the Sunday meal at CCF. Over time, she noticed how many children came to enjoy the hot lunch, so, she and the executive director at the time, Pat Freudenthal, began discussing how they could better engage and serve the children in the community.

“We came up with the idea of a summer carnival,” says Betsy. “For a few hours, we set up games and activities, had food and gave out prizes. The kids loved it!” Eventually, they also began supplying the children with bags of school supplies.

When the Dare to Dream after school mentoring program began four years ago, Betsy knew she wanted to be involved. She tutors weekly, helping the children with homework and reading skills. But more than that, she invests herself deeply in the lives of the children, talking to them about how their day was and making sure they feel listened to and cared about.

“I don’t know which is more critical – the education or the love,” she says. “I truly believe that education is key for these children to break the cycle of poverty. But they also need to be loved, to feel valued and to know how important they are.”

Because the purpose of the Dare to Dream program is to lay the foundation for the children to be successful in school, it can be difficult for volunteers to see the payoff for their hard work. The reading, tutoring and mentoring they do today may not come to fruition until years later, when the children have stayed the course, graduated from high school and moved on to the next phase of their education. But Betsy sees the little victories in the ordinary – a correct answer to a homework question or conquering a particularly challenging word in a new book.

“When they succeed, they just beam,” she says. “You can go forever just on that.”