A few weeks ago, as an after-homework activity, the Safe Place kids planted seeds in small plastic pots. We sat in a circle and the students took turns filling their pots with soil. Everyone got to decide whether to plant peppers, tomatoes, or basil. Each of the kids made quarter inch holes in their soil, gently sprinkled in a few seeds of their choice, and covered them up. The kids labeled their plants with popsicle sticks. Some wrote encouraging messages. My favorite was, “Go plant! You could do it!” Some wrote warnings like, “Taslima’s plant. DO NOT TOUCH.”
Less than a week later, to the collective delight of the kids, tiny, green sprouts started popping up. For now, the plants live on a small table under one of the south-facing windows. Every day when the kids get here, they run over to the table to check on the progress of their plants and give them water and encouraging words. They’ve noticed that the tomatoes are growing the fastest. Many of the kids had never planted anything before and it’s been so fun to see their amazement and wonder and pride as the tiny seeds they planted grow bigger and stronger every day.
A few months ago, I decided that this would be my last year at Trinity, as I’m planning to go to grad school for mental health counseling. It was a difficult decision to make, but it feels like the right thing to do at this point in my life. Pastor Jane and I have interviewed two promising LVCers for the position, and we’ll find out next week who we got matched with.
I feel so grateful that I’ve been able to spend the past two years learning and planting and growing (literally and figuratively!) as the director of Safe Place. I’ve met so many wonderful people and built so many authentic, meaningful relationships in this fascinating slice of the world. The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is such an incredible place, and I’m so happy to have had the chance to spend time, share space, and build community with the kids and families who come to our program.
In the past month, we’ve said goodbye to many of the tutors as their semesters have wrapped up. Fortunately, lots of them are planning on coming back next year, which will help to provide necessary continuity for the program and consistency for the kids. I’m confident that the new Safe Place director will be dedicated to meeting the needs of the kids in the program, and it’s nice to know that she will be supported by plenty of tutors who care deeply about the kids and know the ropes around here.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asking the kids if they have any advice they’d like me to pass on to the new program director. Here are some highlights from the bits of wisdom I’ve picked up so far:
“Be nice, be kind, be respectful of other people,”
“Be nice, have parties three times a day,” and,
“Be fun. Don’t let us be bored, or else we’re gonna get mad.”
I’ll be sure to pass these along. I’ll let the new director decide how many parties she wants to have per day.
Thank you for all of the support you’ve so generously given me and Safe Place over the past two years. My time at Trinity has been full of transformative growth, learning, and listening. The experience I've gained here has really shaped my passion for working with people of various ages and backgrounds and helped me realize that I want to develop my skills of listening to, advocating for, and building effective and appropriate relationships with individuals--particularly those who are disadvantaged by inequitable systems. This job has been formative for my leadership skills, instrumental in helping me to examine and understand my privilege (and use it in positive ways), and has inspired me to pursue a career in the mental health field. While I’m sad to be leaving the wonderful kids and families who come to Safe Place, I’m excited to see where this new path takes me.
Wishing you all a beautiful summer!
With gratitude, Kasi