Letter: Helping youth yields big dividends

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I recently read the Jan. 14 Cheers and Jeers column about Vancouver Public Schools’ Opportunity Zones. This program shows that when the often overly structured and rigid school district comes together, a program can have a great benefit to underserved populations right in their school and that neighborhood. By “treating the entire situation,” not just the school day, the district and its partners are leading the way in a new “outside the box” way to reach children and families in poverty.

Another Jan. 14 story was about a homeless teen scientist. The story out of New York, “Homeless teen scientist learns a house is coming,” told the story of 17-year-old Samantha Garvey. Her family had been living in a homeless shelter.

After learning that she had reached the semifinals of the national Intel science competition, donations came in and, working with the county, the family will receive a rent-subsidized home. Her teacher, Rebecca Grella, found a way to get this done. Now Garvey has applied to attend either Brown or Yale this fall. As her father said in the article “ It’s unbelievable, the outpouring of help that we have had.” Two great stories, 3,000 miles apart, both showing how communities can reach out and help our youth, and give them a hand up.

Greg Flakus

VANCOUVER