Inside ECS: Monique Harris, Riverview
How did you become involved in volunteering?
When Haiti had an earthquake in 2010, my church – Trinity Methodist – went to help. They noticed there was a need for shoes. I asked students at Riverview to help donate, and between our students and the church, we collected 600 pairs of shoes!
We also do a penny pitch day, where the students bring change which goes toward feeding the children in Haiti and in exchange they have the opportunity to wear a funny hat or whichever fun special day we had planned.
What do you do while you are there?
This past March was my ninth trip to Haiti. I check on distribution at the school and orphanage. We bring money to buy rice, beans, oil, and sugar, so we know they will eat in our absence. I make sure the supplies we have purchased are actually there. I visit the school which has 12 teachers, we check to be sure everything is good there. We are working on a well, so they can have clean water. The last time I went we provided some of them with a shoe that grows, it is a sandal that grows five sizes as their feet grow.
What does it mean for you to give back?
The Psalms 41 project, Hope for Haiti, who I volunteer with, has an overall scripture-based message: “Blessed is he who considers the poor.” It’s an important message simply put: to help others in need. I want to teach the kids in Riverview what it means to have empathy and to help kids who can’t help themselves.
Why are you passionate about helping in Haiti?
I want to help kids understand and build relationships, tear down the race issues. By helping to collect shoes to walk in and socks to keep their feet warm at night we are teaching compassion to our students.
How do you help bring Haiti to Riverview?
One of the things we do is an exchange of art. Our students send art to Haiti, and the students from Haiti send art here. It helps the kids to understand a different culture. The fifth grade classes at Riverview do a water walk, where they carry water jugs around the school seven times to represent the seven miles the children in Haiti walk to get water. There are opportunities to learn art, math, science, and more while developing compassion.
What are you passionate about?
Outside of work, I minister at my church and am a Nana (grandma). I am passionate about local outreach to youth. I partner with Rodney Dale to mentor, he is a local fireman and school board member. We gather students for activities, especially in the winter when boredom sets in. We go sledding, to the movies, bowling, anything to encourage them outside of the school setting. We focus on the positive, we want them to know someone cares, and they don’t have to resort to negative activities and behaviors. We also do movie nights once a month at the church.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
You can help us help Haiti! January is the month we really work hard at gathering donations of shoes and socks but you can donate anytime! We are always looking for kid sizes 5-6, new socks and new or very gently used shoes can be brought to Riverview Elementary. You can learn more about our organization or find out how to help on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SGNIntercessor/