At the League we often talk about our “head” work and our “heart” work. My head doesn’t hurt doing this work, but my heart often does. And it recently became personal for me.
In our heads we rely on data to tell the story of children and families who have been disenfranchised, who struggle to make ends meet, who often face challenges because of their income or skin color. Intellectually, we use this data to work for public policy changes that will help our most vulnerable fellow Michiganians. We rely on cold, hard facts.
In our hearts, we know that there are real people, real faces and real stories affected by the work we do at the League. Generally we don’t meet these people, see their faces or hear their stories. But we are working to improve their lives.
My head and heart collided a couple Sundays ago. I’ve been a Big Sister to an amazing young woman for the last three years. She graduated from high school on that Sunday.
My head knows that she has lived with and been raised by her great grandmother. That there are many things I take for granted that her family cannot afford. That she has had to overcome so many barriers. That she will be the first person in her family to attend college. That many of her peers will not attend college.
I sat at her commencement bursting with pride as she walked across the stage to get her diploma. I held back the tears, but my heart hurt as I thought about all that she had overcome to graduate that day and to be preparing for college.
As I looked around, my heart hurt as I imagined there were families cheering for their graduates, but perhaps wondering how they would support their new grads, wondering what their futures would look like without the ability to attend college.
Perhaps even wondering how they would put the next meal on the table.
In the midst of that, my head gave me some hope. Hope in the knowledge that every day here at the League we are working to improve the lives of all of the Little Sisters and their families and their classmates. My heart is hanging onto that hope.
— Karen Holcomb-Merrill