Friday, January 12, 2018


Photo credit: Adrienne Hopkins, Missoula Aging Services.
I just got back at my desk after being at Lewis and Clark Elementary School here in Missoula. Today's when many of Campus Compact's Read For Peace events happen, and I'm nearly always moved to tears at some point during the day. I wouldn't say I'm a very emotional person, but there's something about six, seven and eight year old kids s thinking about segregation and learning about the civil rights movement, and applying it to their realities that always gets me choked up. The bafflement on kids faces when you talk about separate "white only" drinking fountains, parks and restaurants tells me that this country, for a rough as it can be in 2018, has made headway. Certainly, I'm a white person and male, and I know those facts give me privileged vantage point, but the reminders I got in classrooms, that kids' default settings are to love, accept, support each other really helped to give me  some hope for the future.

Read For Peace works from a pretty simple idea, that volunteers reading books and leading activities in elementary schools is a good way to draw attention to the importance of the day, and a good way to add some oomph to thinking about how we live Dr. King's legacy. MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA Bess Palares started Read for Peace just about six years ago, when she served with the Missoula County Public Schools. Since then, we've grown the event to a statewide one, supported by Campus Compact and which partners heavily with Senior Corps and other folks who run National Service program. Here in Missoula, we always get a huge shot in the arm from the amazing team at Missoula Aging Services. In Missoula, the mayor turns out typically, University of Montana student athletes, and a huge crop of citizens. The same is true (accepting the Griz athletes) across Montana! Thanks to the volunteers who read, and the Compact Staff and leaders who spearheaded this.

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