It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village
Posted on 08/04/2021
Lunch Buddy

It Takes a Village
By:  Christine Harper

            There is an African Proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  This means that “an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.”  Truer words have not been spoken.  Mexico Public Schools is extremely fortunate to have a community that works hard to provide a safe and healthy environment for kids to live and prosper.  One organization that has become an important part of our village is Bright Futures Audrain, specifically its Lunch Buddy Program.  Since the beginning of the partnership between MPS and Bright Futures, the Lunch Buddy program has been a rewarding experience and has grown tremendously over the years.

            The Lunch Buddy Program is pretty simple.  A qualified adult (I’ll explain “qualified” at the end) gets paired with a kiddo and that adult goes to their school and has lunch with their Lunch Buddy.  It can be a couple of times a month, once a week, or really when the volunteering adult is available.  Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but it is.  When we talk about positive interactions with kids, the Lunch Buddy Program volunteers definitely provide that.

            So, I did some digging into this program, found some of the people involved in it and hit the jackpot!  I not only talked to a few volunteers, I got a chance to talk to one of the kids and her mom who have been involved in the program since it started.  Elie Long is going into the 6th grade and has been a Lunch Buddy since 1st grade.  AND she has had the same Lunch Buddy since 1st grade, Sally Stuart.  Elie said she wants to go all the way through high school with Sally as her Lunch Buddy.  Elie said, “I trust Miss Sally.  I can tell her anything and she won’t blab to anyone.  She has been a great role model and has given me opportunities to do things.”  Some of those opportunities include helping Elie and her mom, Crissa, fill out scholarships to go to Drama Camp and History Camp, which she received.

Elie’s mom Crissa, had this to say about Sally, “She has been a huge role model for Elie and a blessing to my family.”

Sally Stuart has been with the program since it first started.  Sally said, “The parental cooperation is so important and Crissa has been wonderful.”  Sally said the biggest reward for her has been “to get to know Elie and hope that I’ve made a difference in her life.”  Sally said that over the years, Elie’s friends have sometimes joined them for lunch and that has been a fun time for everyone.

Another Lunch Buddy, Chief Susan Rockett, has also been a Lunch Buddy since the program started in Mexico.  She stated, “I cannot stress enough that efforts like Lunch Buddies are the support for any and all other ways we can maintain, grow, and develop our community.  Nurturing a good, strong foundation is how we build for the future.  Everyone has to help.” 

It really does take a village.  To become a Lunch Buddy is easy to do.  It does require a little bit of paperwork and a background check on the volunteer’s end, but the rewards are so worth it.  I think Chief Rockett, Sally Stuart, Elie Long, Crissa Long, and all the other participants would definitely attest to that.  If you are interested in becoming a Lunch Buddy for the upcoming 21-22 school year, contact Central Office at 581-3773, and we will get you on your way to becoming a part of our village!