With our official number at twenty-six, and a daily attendance hovering around eighteen to twenty, the 48 Riverside Drive facility is at capacity, and then some. In the past three months I have had to say, “no,” to several kids who want to become members (two this past week). Which means there are currently fifteen kids on the waiting list, homeschooling on their own, with our consultation services. There have been a few who were not willing to homeschool without us, and decided to stay in school. I try not to think about the outcomes of those decisions, too often.
When DRC opened in that sad, one-room space, January 2014, above the McFadden Dier Leonard agency, with one student, and the following eighteen-month period when that number tanked to zero and occasionally climbed to a whopping five (only to drop back down to zero), none of us could have imagined or predicted the immense growth that has occurred over the last two years.
In those intervening, nearly, six years, we have served a total of seventy-four youths, as members - some of whom joined us for a few months, rarely showing up, before moving on, others who stayed for a year or so, and a few who are still members after four years.
Here are a few snap shots, to help you understand the magnitude of this recent influx, I have written forty-three IHIPS (Individualized Home Instruction Plans) since August, along with the accompanying Quarterly Progress Reports this November. This Fall, I met with twelve to fourteen teen members every week for their individual mentoring sessions. These unique conversations represent the integral piece of DRC that cannot be replicated within a coercive and compulsory system. This is the time I am able to really get to know each of them. Their fears and anxieties, hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, and their ambitions. Some are very casual and last for a few minutes while: standing in the kitchen cooking lunch, hanging on the couch, setting mouse traps (don’t ask), sorting out the garage, or watching DIY videos on You-tube in the classroom; others happily evolve into awesome, mind blowing, dialogs that extend upwards of an hour in the comfy chairs in the office.
While these conversations swirl throughout our days – it is the hands-on projects and activities that dictate the flow. This year alone, the kids have used over 200 hot glue-sticks, emptied a few bottles of paint, and commandeered every empty box, piece of cardboard, plastic bottle, etc. to create an uncountable number of art and craft projects. They have cooked an abundance of pasta and tomato sauce, mac and cheese, homemade tomato soup, pancakes, and grilled cheese. (Our repertoire is sometimes limited by the items available through the Central NY Foodbank and our personal tastes.) They have baked cakes, cookies, fruit crisps, and quick breads. And, we have gone through enough Greek Yogurt, apples (120 lbs.), bread, butter, orange juice, eggs, and peanut butter (12 – 1 lb. jars) to sink a ship. This next week, we are making a Thanksgiving feast. Yes, the dishwasher runs once a day and the dish drainer is never empty. There is always at least one guitar being strummed, with the drum-machine thumping in the background. The chess board is permanently set-up on a “tv-tray” in the “chill-space” with barely a pause between games. It is not unusual to see an eighteen-year-old engaged in a strategic battle with a nine-year-old. The upstairs classroom is generally occupied with teens in front of laptops working through online classes, watching documentaries and You-tube videos to research various subjects, or even popular films and television shows, reading from a range of text books that inhabit the bookshelves that line the walls, while constantly plugged in to a variety of music. The Seedlings Room is filled with kids playing Legos, magnetic rod toys, creating story-lines, characters, and settings through imaginary play, coloring, reading, working with Khan Academy or Prodigy Math programs or online Language Arts programs, and researching random interests, online.
This all provides the backdrop of an ever-present droning hum created by spontaneous, non-adult directed activity, Some would classify it as utter chaos, I prefer to label it happy, magical artistry that inspires all who enter.
When we took a long, hard look at our stated mission of providing the facilities, resources, and support for young people to take charge of their education, we felt an obligation to all of the children, of the NoCo, who want to be part of this exciting and exhilarating place. Therefore, as you have probably heard, we are expanding! We are bringing all this crazy energy to Lawrenceville, DRC-East, in January. This, of course, will stretch our already limited resources. Because we have maintained our promise to accept any child who needs us, whether their family can afford our tuition or not, fee reductions this year, alone, total more than $105,000.00, which is more than double the annual budget.
Over the past six years, we have had the great, good fortune to have amazing friends and supporters who have contributed several large (for us) grants and donations between $4,000 – $10,000. Those along with smaller (but no less significant) donations have sustained us though some intensely lean times.
We are once again looking to you, our neighbors, to help us provide the facilities and resources for all of the kids in the St. Lawrence Valley, who are inspired to leave a system that is not working for them, to take charge of their education and lives. This is just the beginning – as families leave the established system in droves, we envision a Deep Root Center in every small town in St. Lawrence County, where young people can happily forge a life filled with curiosity, creativity, and hope.
This is your opportunity to invest in our collective future, by supporting our (their) dream. Thank you!
As you have probably guessed, it is once again that time of year that we come to you for support. This year, we are trying a couple of different things to increase visibility and participation. We will be sending out the below double-sided color version appeal to a select few via US Mail. The remainder will be sent digitally through email.
To make it as easy as possible, we have set it up so you can contribute in a variety of ways:
As always you can send a check to - Deep Root Center, 48 Riverside Drive, Canton, NY 13617
Click the link here or in the emailed version - it will bring you directly to the donation page on the DRC Website. With the PayPal button you can choose a one-time donation or you can become a sustaining donor, by clicking the monthly contribution box.
You can also choose to sponsor a DRC Kid. That link is in the digital version of the appeal, as well.
We are also encouraging supporters to check with their employers to see if they provide matching donations or may be interested in sponsoring a DRC kid themselves.
You will also find an on-going Giving Tuesday Fundraiser on the DRC Facebook page.
No matter how you contribute, we are grateful! Thank you!