A teacher from Vancouver’s inner city has issued a heart-wrenching plea for help, saying she needs warm socks, shoes without holes, snacks for hungry tummies and — most of all — people to care for children living in poverty around Admiral Seymour elementary.
“From where I sit every day, things are not okay,” Carrie Gelson says in a letter she penned Friday and addressed simply to the people of Vancouver.
“I can teach these children. Love them. Advocate for them. Stock my room with great books. Give away parts of my lunch.
“I can build community partnerships. I can build relationships with families. I can watch others around me doing the same thing. But until I know you are helping, too, it will remain not good enough.”
Gelson, a Seymour teacher for 16 years, said the words “just poured out” after a particularly frustrating day and she decided to circulate her letter in the hope it might strike a chord, spark a discussion, produce volunteers and encourage people to care about the state of inner-city schools and the crumbling housing projects nearby.
While individuals, groups and businesses have tried to help, Gelson, who teaches a Grade 2-3 split, said it’s not enough.
By the third week of the new school year, she already had a list of items she needs:
• Recess snacks for children who arrive late and have missed breakfast.
“We have had donations and thank goodness. But I have many hungry kids and the stash in my file cabinet won’t last.”
• Warm, dry socks for children who come to school without any or with a pair too small.
“The rains are coming. This just isn’t okay.”
• Boys’ shoes size 3 or 4 and for girls, toddlers’ size 13 to a girls’ size 2, because every day some students come to school wearing shoes with holes.
• A counsellor for the cloakroom, to mop up tears and talk to children who may only be seven or eight years old but are often overwhelmed by sadness. The school has a counsellor who visits once a week for part of a day. “We have bigger needs — plain and simple,” Gelson writes.
• Lots of advocates.
• Affordable, safe housing.
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