I have been in this community a little over two years. We moved here from out of state. I am 34 years old with two children, an 11- and 9-year-old who both attend Hawkins Elementary School.
One year after we moved here, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I had surgery, eight chemo treatments, 6½ weeks of radiation and one year of another IV treatment, and two surgeries since then. During this time, families in the community, the same families that attend this school, came to my need — from bringing meals to my family, helping with child care, transportation and a genuine care and concern for my well-being.
A lot of these families I met for the first time during my life-threatening illness. I was amazed at how giving and caring they were for me. Especially, because I was new to the school and community.
I was shocked to hear in your column (“How to overcome an allergy to empathy,” Dec. 16 Tracy Press, by Jon Mendelson) that these same families are quoted as not being “real role models and showing their children what is meant to be part of a community, to care for others.”
Let me assure you, while the parents of this community brought me and my family meals, they demonstrated to their children the need for outreach and “putting the needs of others first.”
I am one of the party parents for our school. In October, for our Halloween party we planned an exciting event filled with food and games. As we were preparing for this event, Linda Hall came into our classroom and stated that our chips had milk in them. When Mrs. Hall left the room, we received a call and were informed that we could not serve the chips. The chips were put aside, even though Mrs. Hall’s daughter was not in this class, nor did we have any children with food allergies. The only common factor was, it was the same grade but different class as Mrs. Hall’s daughter. There was no threat or risk to Mrs. Hall’s daughter. The chips were then sent two doors down the hall to be enjoyed by my daughter’s class.
I feel that the school is doing its very best with the delicate situation. However, in my opinion, I feel like Faith could better socialize with children of her class in a setting where food is not an issue, such as P.E., library, recess or extracurricular activities.
I would encourage Mrs. Hall not to have a heavy hand in policy toward the entire school, and instead be thoughtful and embrace all children, not just her own.