Jennifer Goodwin is a young fourth-grade school teacher at Apalachin Elementary School. Every Tuesday after the end of the school day, Miss Goodwin begins something very special.
She designed and implemented an after-school program called The Helping Hands Club — fourth- and fifth-grade students who perform charitable activities for those of us in need around our community. Among the projects are creating care baskets for the Red Cross, assisting local elderly care centers, writing letters to elicit donations for local charities, and collecting and distributing donations for the Humane Society. Over two years, they have compiled an extensive resume that leaves virtually no one untouched by these special children, led by this outstanding young woman.
Without thought of recognition or personal gain, Miss Goodwin gives freely of her own time and money for no other reason than a desire to show a few lucky children how great it feels to be something better. The financial assistance from support organizations does not come close to covering the club's expenses, yet she digs into her own modest pockets so that the needed funding gap can be bridged and the goodwill can keep flowing.
The children see this, and both through witnessing true selflessness and taking part in the charitable activities, they begin to view the world in a slightly different light. They begin to develop not just as students but as whole human beings. They learn outside of reading and writing exercises.
They see that there is more to life than just multiplication facts. They begin to see the others around them as people with stories just as important as their own. These youngsters will grow up with this expanded worldview, and every person they will come into contact with for the rest of their lives — whether they know it or not — will owe a debt of thanks to Miss Goodwin for helping these children to be the best people they can.
During a recent "Meet the Teacher Night," while the rest of the students were proudly showing off artistic creations to their parents and grandparents with huge grins and puffed out chests, Miss Goodwin's group roamed the halls selling baked goods for charity. From a small, rural school, the Make-a-Wish Foundation received almost $200 from a group of children with cookies.
It was the children who came up with the idea. This was a completely pure and selfless action initiated by a group of children who have come to embody the spirit of true charity. They gained nothing from this. No grades, no bullet on a college application, no certificates and no awards. Chances are most people will never even know it happened.
This is the true beauty of Miss Goodwin and her wonderful club. They don't need people to know. They know, and they've learned that feels pretty darn good.
Thank you, Miss Goodwin, for making us all want to be better people.
(This “Profile” was posted on the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin website, pressconnects.com, on April 22. It was written by Binghamton resident Jeffrey Kurkoski.)