“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa
It may not seem like much, but volunteering in our community can help show us that the small things may actually be very big.
Our small volunteer crew in front of Open Meadow alternative school in Portland
Yesterday, my daughters and I volunteered at Open Meadow high school in Portland. It’s a private alternative to regular public schools for kids who have either dropped out or have been failed by the system. Funded privately (you can donate here), but working in partnership with PPS, the focus is on small classes, equity, and re-engaging disadvantaged kids to break the cycle of poverty.
Crawford house, home to Open Meadows school
From an architectural perspective, it’s also a small wonder. Housed in a home probably built by either the historically-important Benson or Cheney families, the school sits on a bluff overlooking the Willamette river. It was built in the early part of the twentieth century and reminded me of those majestic, southern antebellum homes.
Rounded turret with curved glass
During our break, we were able to tour the school and I was impressed with so many small details and how unusual they were compared to an average home or school today – rounded windows, an attic that once served as a ballroom, walnut walls and floors in the entry, and floor to ceiling tiles in the bathrooms.
A lot of factors influence the people we become, yet one of the overlooked things is the space that surrounds us. I have to wonder if going to school in such a unique building has any influence on the kids that walk it’s hallways.
At the end of our volunteer shift, we had painted a fence and cleaned up a garden bed to help prepare the grounds for the upcoming graduation ceremonies. It was a small task with seemingly small results.
But I suppose like anything, small is what we make it. The volunteer work in the garden was small, but it will be noticed by everyone. Open Meadow may not be one of the glamour schools, but it is no small task if this small school can inspire a child who has given up, to give education one more chance.
And although it was just another day in the lives of my little girls, I hope it helped show them that the small may not be so small.
Not going to find this on many school yards
Crawford house from the south
View of Portland from the north overlooking the Willamette River
Our small project, and two tired girls.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Volunteered with my daughters at Open Meadow alternative high school in Portland. Small, yet not.