You should meet the kids at Harrisonburg Minnick School.
Some can be hard to draw out of their shells, some have intellectual disabilities; some have a history of behaviors that can hamper their success in traditional classrooms.
But they are imaginative, curious, loving — and fun to be with.
They are as full of potential as any students anywhere.
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, which operates the Minnick School, began as a Salem orphanage in 1888. Today, we’re a statewide social services-agency of nearly 500 employees serving nearly 1,000 people every day through a far-flung network of programs and services. (And while we are proudly affiliated with the Lutheran Church, we have long been an independent not-for-profit agency hiring and serving people of all backgrounds.)
Ours services range from group homes, in-home services and day-support programs for adults with disabilities to foster care and adoption, schools, and counseling for children.
Harrisonburg Minnick School is one of our gems. The teachers and administrators there “get” kids with autism or intellectual disabilities. They have specialized training and degrees. They are remarkably patient. They work every day to teach academics, to guide kids toward smart decision-making, and to prepare kids to navigate challenging social situations and, whenever possible, return to their public-school classrooms.
Harrisonburg Minnick School is supported by the public-school systems who send us their students, so why do we need donations from the community? Because that money covers only the basics. A great education requires a great library, great field trips and community excursions, and a steady stream of art supplies, notebooks and pencils.
And let’s be frank: Some of our students come from underprivileged homes. It may not be a school’s job to provide a student with a warm coat or decent shoes, or to send home a backpack full of nutritious food on Friday afternoon, but it helps kids learn — and it’s the right thing to do. With the support of donors, we do it, and we want to do more.
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