I recently had a wonderful phone conversation with a student out of Philadelphia. Her name was Jessica. Jessica wanted to know about the various ways, she as a student could volunteer with our Foundation. Illustrating one of my many character defects in addition to a tendency to capitalize EVERYTHING - RAMBLING; I proceeded into a lengthy explanation into our programming. I outlined, quite clearly I must say, details on our school safety Investigations, our Antibullying programs, our 24 hour peer counseling call in center & more.
After what seemed an eternity, Jessica, almost at a whisper said, "But I'm not qualified to do any of those things."
And, my heart sank. I proceeded to remind Jessica of a statement I once had painted on our High School center at a Church I pastored in Hawaii. It read, "God, often calls the unqualified but then qualifies the called."
I think Jessica got the point. And she will join our team as a Student Ambassador to support other students from around the nation experiencing school violence; whatever the form. Her heart "qualifies" her to do just that.
Jessica didn't need an extensive resume to join our team. Her BEST QUALIFICATION was her heart, her passion & her vision for a better change for a world she and her peers struggle daily to face. This is not to say we would place Jessica into an active shooter class training a team of Police officers, however. That itself, obviously is a learned skill. I reminded Jessica that there are very "Qualified," Individuals, leading schools & even nations across this world, who are failing miserably. Start with heart & we can build from there.
The conversation I share here with you, specifically in regard to "Qualifications," reminded me of similar conversations we as a Foundation have faced, especially as we have grown. We have had wonderful, encouraging communications with many of you and there have been those, more skeptical, at times judgemental, conversations; with others, understandably wary of yet another Nonprofit.
Questions pertaining to our Foundations Qualifications," & "Motives," are expected in doing the work we do; particularly as public as our work is. One most recent, journalistic gossip, suggested our Foundation's work is based on "Exploiting tragedy for financial gain."
That noted, allow me some clarifications. Since its inception, the Foundation has never requested or received; either formally or informally, a single dime from any individual or school we service. Further, not one board or staff member, including myself of the Foundation is paid - Not one dime. We are ALL VOLUNTEERS! Even the majority of our on call mental health professionals provide their professional mental health care services, "Pro Bono," to our clients.
As a Federal & State recognized 501c3 Nonprofit charity organization, all funds we receive are through private grants along with our various fundraising ventures. Funds raised, through these efforts, are overseen by our Board of Directors and distributed accordingly.
One of the most recent efforts our Foundation is proud of is our recent response to Richneck Elementary School In Newport News, VA in response to the shooting of teacher Abby Zwerner there. Not only were we able to provide needed Crisis Response services but also honored to present Ms Zwerner with a well deserved "Hero," award. Read more here:
As for our team Qualifications? We have Board & team members serving with us who are School Superintendents, Private Investigators & Youth Leaders. We have Mental Health Counselors, Students & Retirees working in various capacities, from around the country. We are a true collective of individuals, moms & dads, laymen & professionals; all from a variety of related & even unrelated backgrounds; working on both grassroots and national platforms, to end school violence.
Our largest qualifications is our heart for keeping our students - our sons & daughters safe. Heart. The rest can be built upon. Sound familiar?
Myself, I am the least of this great foundation. While I am the Founder, my primary task currently is building a team, far more "qualified," than I to accomplish our vision & to ensure that wherever a student is facing violence in this nation - Our foundation is there..
Historically, however, I have served as a Teacher and Youth Pastor, a Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist & an Author. I've been a City Council candidate & advocate for the American Indian Movement. I've worked as a Lifeguard In Hawaii & as an Emergency Services Chaplain In Orange County, California. I have worked for years in schools and, when necessary, taken action to hold them accountable when they have failed their students.
My proudest "Qualification," is as a father; with a close second being my previous service as a surfboard shaper In California.
(Didn't expect that did you? ☺)
I have no Doctorate or Masters. Some on our team do. I am not a Doctor, of any sort. Some on our team are. These are necessary, "Qualifications," in much of our work and I leave that to them.
Myself, I merely shared my hearts vision for students, bringing my experience; however extensive, to the cause of protecting our students & serve as a voice for those facing school violence.
I am most proud to serve alongside the powerful, unified, dedicated team, our foundation has & is building upon; focused organically alone toward that purpose. Together, with you, we can work for the communities of students around this country who deserve to be free of school violence & well - Just be students again...
Will you join our efforts!?
Some qualifications required. ☺
Daniel "Bodhi" Chapin
Founder & National Director
The Uvalde Foundation For Kids
"Out Of Tragedy - Hope"
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