The following was published at the beginning of February, 2018.
Doris Duncan, Executive Director
I would like to tell you about a little girl I met named Isabelle. Isabelle is an imaginary name for a 13 year old young girl that I just met recently at work. She came to us from the Volunteer Center Court Referral Program and had to serve 24 hours for some trouble she had at school. To protect her identity, I will not write about what she did or her real name because it is not important. Helping her is much more important.
Here's how I realized she needs our help:
I was getting reports from a couple of our staff members that Isabelle would not follow instructions and was not participating in the work she came to volunteer for her court hours. I had been watching from a distance and noticed the same thing, but was too busy to intervene. I finally approached Isabelle and asked her if she would go for a walk with me to the PEEP Barnyard.
On our way there, I let her know that we were feeling challenged by her behavior. I could see a look of rebellion and anger which I instantly recognized from my teenage years. I let her know it was hard for us to work with her as we did not have supervisors and we were expecting those who came to do their hours, to work because they were committed by the court and not us. I told her it was her responsibility to take care of what the judge asked her to do.
She looked confused and I suggested she could go to another non-profit that had more supervision and structure. She stopped walking with me and looked up at me and said, "But I don't want to leave, I like it here." Tears were welling up in her eyes. As I looked into those teary eyes, I saw myself 44 years ago. Always pushing it, always upset because people didn't notice me and just trying to get a little attention. Then it's too late because your in trouble again.
We continued to walk and I asked what her name was. When she answered, I said "Wow, that's an unusual name. I asked her if she could of named herself, what would it be? She said Isabelle. We just arrived into the PEEP Barnyard and I introduced her to Natalie, our PEEP student teacher. Natalie was cleaning out the chicken coop and asked "Isabelle" to help her.
The rest of the story goes like this; "Isabelle did great for the rest of the day and has plans to come back next week. When her stepmother came to pick her up later, I showered her with praises and let her stepmom know how much we appreciated her. I could see Isabelle smiling the whole time with a proud look on her face. I told her them about our education barnyard program, PEEP. When I mentioned the $300 tuition fee, I could see right away by the look on her face, that was not an option for Isabelle.
I would like to extend a plea to our supporters to please donate, so we can send Isabelle, and other children who are less fortunate, to PEEP. We could give her the time and attention she deserves and it would give her the hope she needs for the future. That hope comes when someone takes the time to teach you how to do kind things for animals. Then that in turn, makes you feel really good about yourself, even when other people don't notice you.
Don't you think everyone should get to feel good about themselves? If you would like to speak with me directly instead of on this public post, please call me on my work cell at 707-486-0226. I would love to tell Isabelle, along with other children less fortunate, that our friends all wanted her to join PEEP and learn how to care for the animals and gardens with her own private teacher Natalie. The $300 we raise for Isabelle will let her stay in the PEEP for six months! If you are interested in donating to "The Isabelle Scholarship Fund," CLICK HERE.
The Isabella Scholarship Fund