National Giving Day

For the last three years of my life, I’ve been a volunteer at RiverTree Academy, a private Christian school providing community-funded education for under-resourced students in the Lake Como neighborhood in my hometown of Fort Worth. I’ve dedicated one day a week to being around preschoolers. When I started, I never knew greater purpose these kids would have in my life. They have taught me more than I could ever teach them in the three years I’ve been there. 

I remember my first day extremely vividly. The kids were on the playground. Nothing on the walls except a white board and the ABC’s. The room was completely empty of decorations. Little did we know, by the end of the year we couldn’t even find an inch of the original wall because it was completely covered in finger paintings and glitter. As I walked through the door, I was greeted by Ms. Andrea, a woman who to this day amazes me by how much she loves children. She taught me everything I know about working with kids. She has showed me the importance of patience and perseverance.

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Volunteering at RiverTree has changed my life. 

Being around kids that much teaches you A LOT of patience. Something I didn’t really have before. I forgot that nothing happens immediately. Last year, I was working with a student who couldn’t tell the difference between “R” and “K”. It was frustrating and it took months but every single week I kept coming back and sitting at the table with him. We used flashcards, worksheets and whiteboards. But alas, after seven whole months of working and working, he finally got it. I probably scared him a little bit because I jumped out of my seat and stuck my hand out for a high five. That was the greatest day ever. I can’t even describe the feeling of joy and excitement that overflowed my heart. I was so proud of him. It was unbelievable.

At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you have given back.
— Denzel Washington

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been walking through a heavy storm. I needed to turn my phone off and logout of all social media. I needed some time to process everything going on around me before I could get back to the real world and my job. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to write something for this week since my emotions have just been all over the place.  Yesterday was my first day back at RiverTree. Being around the kids filled my spirit and it just came to me. There is no greater gift in life than to give back to your community. It reminded me that no matter what is going on in your life, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I never knew the impact these kids would have on me. My heart continues to get bigger and bigger with each week making room for each of them.