A View from Glen Hill: The power of one!

Patrick Cummins is a seventh grader with vision. But what can you do to try to change the world when you’re in seventh grade? My own vision as a seventh grader didn’t extend much beyond getting homework done and the next game. Patrick’s vision, by contrast, has extended to feeding the poorest children in the world using his efforts teamed with those of fellow students on the 7 Green team at Middlebrook School.
And Middlebrook definitely seeks to foster its students’ vision. One way it’s done that is through the Power of One program that invites students beginning in seventh grade to consider what they can do to have an impact beyond the walls of their school. This program itself reflects the vision of Middlebrook educator Cindy Beck-Moore. She is a great inspiration to those students who want to exercise their vision muscle and take on a Power of One project. Each project originates with the student but then is carefully vetted by Beck-Moore and her Middlebrook faculty colleagues. Part of the vetting includes determining how committed the student is to his or her project and how capable he or she will be to carry the project through to fruition. In Patrick’s case, they knew Patrick has an excellent project concept to which he is firmly committed and that he is a student who can be relied upon in the carry-through department.
Patrick’s project is meal packaging to feed the hungriest children in the world wherever they may be. He’d seen meal-packaging work done by the Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (Wi-ACT) each October for four years now. In fact, for the last several years he has not only been a shift volunteer on the meal-packaging day itself but also a set-up worker in the days before the event to help make sure everything is ready for the big all-day effort on packaging day.
Thus, Patrick knows in detail how the work is done, and he’s also seen the Wi-ACT effort grow to twice its initial 76,000 meals in only four years. So he checked with the organization with which Wi-ACT partners to make this event happen, Stop Hunger Now, Inc. (SHN). SHN is a highly rated 501(c)(3) nonprofit that brings the ingredients and equipment necessary to do the packaging to the work site and then takes the completed meals to be served in school programs where the children served are fed in mind as well as in body. It does so around the world, from sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti and Central America to the Far East.
Patrick ascertained that SHN would be willing to do a 10,000- to 20,000-meal event at a middle school and also learned that, while they’d done meal-packaging at colleges and universities and for faith institutions and businesses, this would be their first with a middle school. SHN is excited about the possibility of a whole new range of meal packagers opened by Patrick’s vision.
And so the vision took on form and substance. Patrick has organized around him a team of student leaders, and the date for the meal-packaging event at Middlebrook has now been set with school administrators and with SHN as May 14, right after school. It will involve around a hundred seventh graders in the meal-packaging work under SHN’s guidance.
Patrick did not neglect the fundr-aising side, either. At 29 cents per meal paid to SHN for the ingredients, it costs $5,800 to do 20,000 meals. And so Patrick’s leadership team has organized student bake sales, set up a website to receive donations (http://stophungernow7gmb.squarespace.com), and arranged — working with Middlebrook instructional leader and music educator Janet Nobles — for Middlebrook students to perform at Wi-ACT’s Stop Hunger Now Benefit Concert this Sunday at 4 p.m. at the WEPCO Church Complex (36 New Canaan Road) in exchange for 50% of the concert’s ticket proceeds. Thus, Middlebrook choruses and also soloists and small ensembles, dancers as well as musicians, along with Wilton High School students as well, will be joining operatic soprano Anna Rita Tornello and concert pianist Erica vanderLinde Feidner in performance.
It will be a great event, and at $10 a ticket, the price is certainly reasonable. The proceeds will help to feed some of the world’s poorest children (more than 600 for an entire year if 220,000 meals can be packaged). Our attendance will help to affirm the work of students with vision, letting these students know that their willingness to work for the good has our whole community’s very enthusiastic support!