Dear Friends of the St. James School Community,
I have been tremendously heartened by your response to my weekly messages sharing the ways we are coping with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our students, families and neighbors. Without the outpouring of generosity, we could not be keeping food on their tables in this time of acute need.
To note a few of the things that especially touched my heart over the past week:
- We received many checks for $575, an odd amount until we realized people were sending us half of the $1,200 stimulus check they had received from the government.
- Another church partner – St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Newtown Square – volunteered to collect food donations for The Welcome Table to distribute.
- More than 40 of you reached out to me within hours of reading last Friday’s email to give me encouragement, offer praise and prayers for the people directly serving our neighbors, or ask me questions including, “How else can we help?”
That question came from people who are already giving what they can financially, or purchasing items from our Amazon Wish List, or dropping off food at St. James or a partner church.
My response was: Share the St. James School story with the people you know. One easy way to do that is to forward this email to three or five or ten people with a personal note saying why you think St. James is worthy of support. By spreading the word about the work we are doing, you introduce us to future supporters.
To open another window into the St. James School experience during this challenging time, I invited Levi Lee, Director of Student and Family Services, to tell you about his trauma-informed therapy work with our students and families. I’m pretty sure Levi’s story of a bereaved student helping her family cope with a death will touch your heart.
It is a reminder that every one of us can make a difference, no matter our age or circumstances. If you are already helping St. James School make a difference, thank you! If you want to start helping now, please see below How You Can Help Right Now.
God bless you,
Head of School
P.S. Keep a lookout for a formal announcement that our Scholarship Benefit on Thursday, June 4th will be a virtual event! We will be honoring Lorene Cary, and Bill and Laura Buck, and you’ll enjoy some fun surprises. Wait until you hear how our food sponsor Di Bruno Bros. will be involved this year!
A Few Words from Levi Lee
On a typical day, you will find me doing therapy calls with my 10-month old daughter Casey in one arm and my 2-year-old son Levi in the other! The needs are greater than ever, which has increased my caseload. Meanwhile, my wife Kelly is doing data analysis for a COVID-19 task force.
How is the current situation affecting your therapy goals?
My main goal is to provide specific coping strategies that students and parents can utilize independently. I use 30-40 different strategies, depending on the case. I am also practicing dialectical behavioral therapy. It provides very in-the-moment strategies to cope with the anxiety and stress many of them are feeling as they deal with job losses, more child care responsibilities, remote learning, etc.
Are there additional challenges right now?
My area of focus is trauma, and recovering from trauma is a long process. It involves therapy with the child and with the parent. Being web-based can be a benefit if it makes the parent more available. But often I find providing therapy remotely is more challenging and takes longer. In addition, I am working with the St. James staff to prepare them to support our students’ mental health needs when they return to school, which might include recovery from trauma during COVID-19.
What is keeping you hopeful?
The progress of students who participated in the trauma group this year is really astounding! They learned about the brain science of trauma, how to recognize symptoms in themselves and others, and what coping strategies they can utilize. These students are not only very in touch with their mental health needs, they are providing support to family members. A student who recently lost her grandmother has been encouraging her family to utilize the coping strategies she learned. It’s a beautiful thing. Everyone is really caring for each other right now.
What are you most looking forward to next fall?
I miss being a kid with the St. James kids! I miss doing secret handshakes, TikTok dances, and taking walks to the chicken coop. I miss Chef Anthony’s cooking and lunch with my co-workers.
Anything else you want friends of St. James to know?
I just want to say thank you so much to all of our supporters. Humbly, from my heart. Because I know it’s a trying time for all of us. It really shows the depth of compassion in our donor community. These are scary times, but our supporters are saying “I am not giving up on St. James.”
Helper Shout-Out to Donna Stone
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” — Fred Rogers
Before our COVID-19 school closure, if you visited on a Tuesday, you would be greeted with a friendly hello from our front desk volunteer, Donna Stone. In between answering the door, the phone, or a student’s question, she could be seen mending student uniforms.
But for the past six weeks, Donna has been helping St. James feed the neighborhood. Every week, she makes numerous trips to Sprouts Farmers Market to pick up food donations that The Welcome Table distributes from tables on W. Clearfield St.
“Being part of The Welcome Table and Sprouts are the happiest three days of my week!” Donna exclaims. “I love the receivers at Sprouts who go around looking for food donations for St. James. Then when I drop off healthy food to The Welcome Table team and see Madeleine’s and Andrew’s faces – they make my day! I’m so grateful to have this little mission.”
During a recent Sprouts visit, a manager named Darrell mentioned that staff morale was low at the store due to the high-risk nature of their work. He asked if Donna could help lift their spirits by sharing photos of the good Sprouts food donations were doing.
Even better than photos, Donna shared our video of “What goes into a Welcome Table grocery bag.” Darrell passed it along to other managers at Sprouts, who shared it widely among the staff. Spirit-lifting mission accomplished!
How You Can Help Right Now
Pray for us, our students, families, staff and neighbors.
Purchase needed items from our Amazon Wish List, which Amazon will deliver to the school.
Make an online donation to our COVID-19 food program: examples of what your contribution can buy are:
$30 (box of oranges) $75 (case of chicken) $190 (case of cereal)
$300 (case of yogurt) $575 (1 day of food) $4,000 (1 week of food)
Deliver food directly to St. James School or drop items off at:
- St. Christopher’s Church (226 Righters Mill Rd, Gladwyne, PA 19035). Large plastic bins marked “St. James School” are under the cloister walk between the school building and the church.
- St. Alban’s Episcopal Church (3625 Chapel Road, Newtown Square, PA 19073). The church sanctuary is open from 11am to sundown each day, and the back pew is designated for St. James School. Donating items that need refrigeration? Call ahead to 571.429.1427.
Church leader? Invite Dave Kasievich to join your Sunday Mass via Zoom and/or to share information about St. James School needs for publication in your church bulletin. Reply to this email or call Dave at 215.226.1276 x108.
Mason (5th grade), far left, was named “student of the week” at home by his mom. His siblings include St. James School graduate Mackenzie (Class of 2018) and Max (8th grade).