Mark Goldschmidt

From: Natick, MA
Program: Assistance Dog
Minimum Goal: $8,000 | Amount Raised:$3,431

The photo is of me with a handful of my students from the Resiliency for Life Program www.resiliencyforlife.org at Framingham High School in Framingham, MA.  We are a voluntary program that supports about 50 students in grades 9-12 who are struggling in school.  In almost all cases our students’ academic struggles are rooted in their social/emotional challenges.  Many of our amazing students suffer from depression and anxiety, and in several cases they have undergone significant trauma like rape, abuse, hunger, or the sudden death of a parent.

A typical day for our students begins with a quick check-in during home room where we remind them if they have any missing or upcoming assignments that they need to work on or stay after school to complete.  Then they go out to take regular classes just like all of the other 2100 students in the school, but they often come to me for academic support and/or our program’s social worker for social/emotional support.  Almost all of our students who graduate with us end up attending college or enlisting in the military.

Many of our students have trouble focusing either because they are stuck on sad thoughts, haven’t slept well because of their depression or because they have executive functioning issues like ADD.  We also work hard to address chronic attendance problems.  Our dog will be a reason for some of our students to fight through their thoughts and come to school.  It will also provide comfort for those who are suffering during the day so that they can refocus their thoughts from sadness to schoolwork.  Despite their good intentions, many of our students struggle to stay for our after school program to complete work or to get extra help from their teachers, so the dog will also be a great incentive for them to stay and do the right thing.

Because we are a 501c3 within the school we raise funds for anything our program needs that isn’t salary or a stipend.  It will be challenging for us to raise the money to pay our share for the dog because we still need to fund the core mission of our program.  For instance, the photo here shows us on a field trip where we toured and ate lunch at Framingham State University and then went mini golfing.  Our non-profit arm paid for the bus, lunch and golf or our students never would have had the opportunity to attend and see a possibility for their future.  On a similar trip one of our students, Nathalia Castrillon decided to attend Framingham State.  She ended up as a Fashion Design major and, after graduating, appeared on Project Runway.  She even spoke about sustainable fashion at the United Nations in September of 2017.  With our type of individualized support ANYTHING is possible.  Check out what former student Sabetha Lafontant had to say.

Mark Goldschmidt

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