Changing Lives Together
A Message from Maria
Deep Root Center Mission
At Deep Root Center (DRC), we believe that all young people deserve a safe, educational environment where they feel like they are part of a community - and where they are free to explore all the possibilities.
You can mail your contribution to:
Deep Root Center, 48 Riverside Drive, Canton, NY13617
You can also donate through Venmo.
Hope, imagination, enthusiasm, ambition, and gratitude are the cooperative team that has defined DRC's existence from the beginning. Together they create a sense of urgency and positivity that drive everything we do.
Nine years ago, after an overwhelming year of heartbreak, disillusionment, and tears, I was anticipating opening DRC's doors - hoping that this self-directed, non-coercive model would resonate with families in the North Country.
First, there was hope that there would be enough kids to attract other kids. Soon that hopefulness adjusted with the additional goal of attaining 501c3 status and legal identity in NYS. Then and now, our hope rests on keeping us fiscally viable to serve the many families currently relying on us - and all those who will reach out in the coming months and years.
Hoping keeps us alive. Imagination provides the goals. Ambition, commitment, enthusiasm, and joy in the work give us a reason to keep going for all the kids who call on us for support. And our gratitude keeps us humbly aware that DRC would not survive without the generosity of our community.
Hence, it is again the time of year we bring our message of hope to you. Please consider helping us build a sustainable future for Deep Root Center, where we hold space for the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all the young people who enter our safe, alternative environments.
You will find our annual funding appeal here.
And as always - thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Weekly Creative Meditation
Both of our crews are settled into a humming groove. They are confidently instigating activities, projects, and new learning opportunities daily.
Plan on joining us for light refreshments, to meet our staff, board,
& these awesome student members. Bring all your questions about our programs.
DRC Canton (48 Riverside Dr., Canton) - December 5th - 4-7pm
DRC-East (47 Perkins Rd., Massena) - December 12th - 4-7pm
We are happy to introduce Ashlyn, DRC-East's new apprentice!
The DRC-East Crew
And a Happy Canton Crew
Connection and Engagement
We all have natural talents - things that seem to come easy. And those are generally the things we spend our time honing and perfecting - because they are fun, satisfying, and engaging. Then as we refine those skills, we discover other things that correlate and seek ways to learn more.
We, humans, are innate learners, and no amount of coercion will force us to absorb the things we don't personally find intriguing or practical. I am reminded of this four times a year when I talk to kids to document everything they have done over the previous ten weeks in their quarterly reports.
When we write their learning plans at the end of each summer, we discuss what they want to focus on based on the things they are naturally interested in and want to explore. In those plans, they often tell me things they think are required or that I want to hear, not what they really desire. This means when I talk to them in mid-November for their first quarterly report, we discover some things they haven't even touched because they honestly have no interest. Or if they did, they don't remember anything about it. Which only induces a sense of unhealthy guilt. All that self-condemnation only makes them feel bad about themselves. It certainly won't change anything the next time we sit down to discuss what they have worked on - in January.
This only speaks to my point that we can require certain subjects and topics - but that does not mean that anything will be learned longer than needed to pass the test - if there is no personal connection. And to be clear, we can't force that either.
I spend my days watching kids seek out the subjects, activities, and projects that feed and excite them. They are learning something new every minute of every day as they joyfully explore, engage, and connect with the nuances of their interests and talents and with the people who are happily doing the same around them.
And those are the moments documented in their quarterly reports - because those are the ones they will remember - forever.
Weekly Creative Meditation
There is a lot going on here these next few weeks. Our annual funding appeal is going out in the next week or so. Look for it here or in your mailbox. DRC is growing, and we need your help to support the families who need us. Please consider contributing to our goal of being able to help every child who wants to join us.
Please plan on joining us at one of our open houses in December. We are excited to share everything we have been working on and our plans for the future. You are invited to have a hand in determining our direction over the next several years with a hands-on activity that will be available for everyone who attends.
Please check out our website - we have been working on streamlining information. We welcome feedback and suggestions.
Our East Peeps - busy and engaged this past week.
And our Canton Crew!
On Friday, a group of kids took over the art room to make pillows and stuffed animals. They pulled me in to fix the sewing machine (again), and while there, I helped the seven-year-old redraw and cut out the pattern for the stuffed bear. As I showed her how to put the pins in to hold the two sides together, I said, "this is going to be a little more difficult to sew than a regular pillow because there are a lot of curves." She looked straight at me and said with a cheeky grin, "I always enjoy a good challenge." I just had to grin back at her.
After a few miss starts and receiving some assistance sewing around said curves of the arms and legs - she is thrilled with her (slightly wonky) stuffed bear that will get some facial features (personality) and clothing on Monday.
That afternoon, I peeked into the art room to find this same seven-year-old standing next to the sewing machine and patiently teaching the fifteen-year-old how to sew. Then, later on, the ten-year-old.
This story is about a particular seven-year-old; however, you could easily replace the seven with one, two, three, four, five, six, and occasionally an eight. We know that learning is absolutely natural but once these kiddos become integrated into our culture through indoctrination of the system - a good portion of them quickly lose all of that "boldness" and self-confidence.
In traditional school, kids often learn their curiosity is a burden to the adults who have to answer the never-ending questions (there simply isn't time in the day) and that mistakes are something to avoid at all costs. They need to fit in - not make waves - sit still and "shut up." These naturally inquisitive (wild) authentic beings are squished into conformity, compliance, and blind obedience.
At DRC, we find this to be true - by the time a child is nine or ten, they often come to us reserved and hugely afraid of making mistakes. They apologize constantly and are fearful of saying what they are interested in or taking on anything that is new or challenging. A few are actually mute.
This is why I celebrated this past week when a teen filled and turned on the electric kettle and made his own ramen alone for the very first time. When I congratulated him with a fist bump - he just stood there with a big grin of pride on his face.
It never gets old. Over this past year, I have watched this teen - who had been so fearful of screwing up that his apologies for asking clarifying questions were profuse - transform into one who confidently makes his own lunch and takes a couple of younger kids under his wing. To say it is awe-inspiring isn't enough to describe the goosebumps and tears that prick at the corners of my eyes every damn time.
Weekly Creative Meditation
We will be holding Open Houses at both Centers in December. Save the dates. Plan on joining us to meet our kiddos and bring all your questions for our Staff and Board.
Both Centers had a great time celebrating Halloween. The DRC- Canton Peeps honored Dia de los Meurtos - as well.
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