Text by Emily Mercer, Trinity High School & Jacob Boelkens, Trinity High School
Picture a little boy walking up to the school nurse, his face red with embarrassment. He tugs on her shirt and motions for her to come down to his level so that he can whisper in her ear.
“Ma'am, I had an accident.”
This situation is, unfortunately, a common occurrence among elementary schools. Children will have accidents in their only pair of pants and or underwear, and many of them need to borrow clothes from the nurse’s office. Usually, those items are loaned out so that they can be worn home, washed, and returned. Sometimes, though, they never come back.
The Secret Need
With over half of its students qualifying for free and or reduced lunch, the Hurst-Euless-Bedford community is fortunate to have helping hands on call when items like these are in short supply. Such was the case when staff at West Hurst Elementary reported a disparity in their supply of underwear and socks for accident-prone young students. Administrators quickly contacted 6 Stones with a cry for help.
“The school counselor let us know that they had many young kindergarten male students having accidents at school and were out of underwear and socks to provide for these students when they need to change. It's so important for these students to have the confidence to return to class and learn,” said Adrianna Watson, director of School Based Initiatives at 6 Stones.
“When the school shares a need, we network that need with partners who are ready to help fill that need,” Watson said. Fortunately, Holy Trinity Anglican Church and Peace Lutheran Church — two churches that partner with West Hurst — were ready and willing to answer the call.
A Tradition of Service
“We reached out to those who helped us in the past with donations and we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we received. We are now well stocked with all the items (clothes, socks, underwear, etc.), plus gift cards to purchase shoes as needed for students who have a need,” West Hurst nurse Mettie Hesse said via email.
Support from the faith community is not new to West Hurst faculty and students. Many families at West Hurst have received help in some form or another from 6 Stones and the Mid Cities faith community in general, a fact for which the school faculty is deeply thankful, especially during the holiday season.
Each year, 6 Stones holds a Christmas event called Night of Hope to support families who are struggling. Churches and volunteer organizations donate their money, time, and resources into making this a night to remember for the kids filled with crafts, activities, great food, and pictures with Santa. In fact, Night of Hope was an early connection point between Holy Trinity, Peace Lutheran and West Hurst Elementary.
Beyond the Church
“The relationship we have with the faith community is a wonderful doorway of outreach to the families in the community. We have many families that are new to the DFW area from other states and even international students. Economic as well as health needs are met due to these relationships. Our school administrators know where to send families when we see a need. 6 Stones has a wonderful relationship with the churches in the community. Along with assisting with this immediate need, they are there when we send a family who has more specific needs to be met,” Hesse said.
According to leaders in the faith community, local churches value the opportunity to help those in need. But churches like Peace Lutheran and Holy Trinity aren’t only offering their services to those who come directly to them. Through community partnerships, they can reach beyond the frames of their buildings.
“Churches tend to be closed cells, locked away behind the doors of the church. By getting out into the community, we are moving outside of the comfort of the church. This makes the church and people visible to the community in a way that is reassuring to the students and faculty of both schools.. I had hoped to have other churches involved with most of the schools in the area. That is my dream, to help where 6 Stones cannot go,” Pastor Joel from the Holy Trinity Church said.
A Coalition of Catalysts
6 Stones, too, wants to work with others to accomplish more. Using their network of church and community partners, they can do more to strengthen the cities of Hurst, Bedford, and Euless. They build relationships with churches and encourage them to use their resources to strengthen the bond between the community as a whole.
That said, 6 Stones focuses on collecting Christmas items for the school district in the months leading up to December; socks and underwear don’t fit the bill. As a “Catalyst of Hope,” however, they are more than happy to start things so that churches can use their resources to build relationships and extend assistance further than 6 Stones could ever do themselves. Luckily, the people of HEB are caring, considerate, and cooperative. That makes it easy to connect the dots in this community.