I hope everyone is coming off a great holiday season for I know I did. It was good to relax with the family and have some downtime. Of course, now we all have to dry out after a wet January has left us with a lot of rain and snow. The time off recharged my batteries.
A heartwarming letter from the holidays to make you think
While on vacation I got this letter in the mail. And I wasn’t going to read it because I get a lot of them. But then I saw it was an organization that supported homeless youth and so I read on. It talked about a little girl named Kathy who was homeless and appeared at their door carrying an aluminum paint can. Kathy carried the paint can everywhere, and she even slept with it, and when she was sad, she would talk to it. It made her happy. People would ask her what was in it, and she wouldn’t say.
One day, one of the sisters sat her down. Kathy told her that in the paint can was her mother. It was her mother’s ashes. Kathy had never known her mother. Her mother had left her in a garbage can. She had told the sister that she had lived in a lot of foster homes mad, but then one day she decided to try to find her. Someone knew where she was, and Kathy found her in the hospital. She had made it to the hospital the day before her mother died. Her mother had AIDS. But before Kathy’s mother passed away, she told Kathy she loved her. And that is why Kathy carried the paint can. It was a very effective campaign ad for this organization.
This letter reminded me of the “why” we help students experiencing homelessness.
There is a bit of Kathy in each one of the homeless children and youth we touch. Each one of you that works with those experiencing homelessness has a story that will never leave your life, just like Kathy and the next person I am going to talk about reminds us that the work we do impacts lives.
Dedicated to Retired McKinney-Vento Liaison from Nye County School District
Linda Fitzgibbons dedicated 16 years to McKinney-Vento for Nye County School District
This year an awesome lady was recognized at the annual National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Conference. Linda Fitzgibbons retired in 2021 as the Nye County School District McKinney Vento Liaison, a program she helped build. Linda received from NAEHCY at their 34th national conference the lifetime achievement award. She had worked for NCSD for 16 years as the McKinney Vento Liaison and resides in Pahrump, Nevada.
Linda was pleasantly surprised when she got the award saying on her Facebook page, “So, this just happened, Wow! Very surprised and happy.” They had told her to go down to San Diego for a free lunch. She came out of her retirement and spent a few days away from babysitting her granddaughter to fly down to San Diego to accept the award. As she accepted the award, she recalled her first NAEHCY conference in Denver and said she knew nothing about McKinney Vento and sat through a McKinney Vento 101 lecture and said that it changed her way of thinking and her life.
As she held the award in her hand, she said, “Think of the one person you helped for they will stay with you for the rest of your life.”
I have known Linda for some years because when she was working for Nye County when I was the Sports Editor for the Pahrump Valley Times and as part of that job, I would cover school news too. I could feel the compassion and thankfulness in her voice whenever I spoke to her. When she worked, Linda Fitzgibbons was literally all over town collecting donations from various organizations and chatting it up with potential donors. She had an energy about her that attracted businesses like a moth to a flame.
I remember her as a lady who was all in for students experiencing homelessness. When I first met her in 2015 and asked her about McKinney Vento and homeless students remember I had never even heard of McKinney Vento and was even surprised we had homeless students in Pahrump Every time I met her, she was always busy either collecting donations for the students or talking to someone about student identification. The woman was never at rest. Linda was well-known in the Pahrump Valley and throughout the district for her impressive networking skills. Many of the businesses and service organizations still donate to McKinney Vento thanks to her efforts.
I wanted to acknowledge her years of dedication to her students to truly thank this remarkable lady for her years of dedicated services to the Nye County School district.
Linda has certainly slowed down her pace, but she still loves helping out the community. She is currently the president of the Pahrump Valley Chapter of Soroptimist International, an organization working to help other women to be their best. But no matter what she does for the rest of her life, she will always be remembered as the face of McKinney Vento in our town.
ARP-HCY subrecipients should have received an email from me asking them about their spend-down on ARP HCY 2 homeless. The reason being there are still some subrecipients that have not started spending their drafts for ARP Homeless 2. NDE would like to have all of our LEAs to be spending as soon as possible. Think of the tracking as a positive force keeping us on track. If you are still in draft and need some extra assistance, please feel free to contact me or to attend our next office hour. Below I included budget purchases from LEAs throughout the state from ARP Homeless 2.
ARP HCY Homeless 2 budget purchases in Nevada: New vans for the transportation of MV students, professional development, tutoring, summer social workers, transportation for MV students to attend tutoring, dues, and fees for field trips, summer school programs, development of MV materials, UNLV telehealth counseling, transportation for afterschool programs, Bus passes for Mv students, Boys club and girls club after school programs.