I was born here, raised here, educated here, and I have chosen to stay here. Currently my wife and I are raising our family here. Who knows where my life will go from here or where I will die. Irregardless I’ll always be a guy from Indiana.
For the state that has given me so very much I would like to give back.
I’ve never been a ward of the state or in the system. But I have benefited greatly from programs funded by the State of Indiana.
The Boys and Girls Club
Yes, even before being born the State of Indiana and the WIC Program was helping me through the umbilical chord that tied my mother and I together.
As a kid I never knew anything about Head Start. I always thought it was just school. Then, I thought it was just day care. It was both. But, the one thing I never questioned was why my mom was there. It was me, my brother, my mom, a few of my friends, and classmates.
My Club story is similar to most. I went almost everyday beginning at the age of 7. I started as a Cadet and was a member/participant all the way past my Senior years. Truth be told I’m not sure what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for The Boys and Girls Club.
It was located directly across the street from my front door and adjacent to my elementary school, MacArthur. I literally ran there from school to get the good gym equipment. I walked there every Saturday morning. Usually one of the first to arrive, same motivation.
A positive place for kids
Athletics, arts and crafts, wood shop, homework help, a color TV, bumper pool, ping pong, and a kitchen. Access to food, information, homework help, a truly positive place for kids. Ten bucks a year. Usually we were late on that payment as well. Field trips to other clubs, sporting events, parks, swimming pools, various competitive tournaments in the gym, out in the fields, on the table games, even charades and improv. Kris, Ralph, Dean, even my cousin Mary Joan, to name a few of the directors, teachers, and coaches that helped me along the way.
I received free and/or reduced lunch the majority of my 13 years as an Indiana Public School student. Kindergarten included.
As a kid from a small rural community who attended school in a different town I hated the daily reminder of being poor. Handing the cashier that brightly colored lunch ticket at breakfast and lunch let everyone know that I was different. Not to mention those really awkward semesters when my siblings and I only received half assistance. Then, more often than not the line slowed even more as the cashier would have to count a fist full of pennies, nickles, maybe a few dimes. However, sometimes on those lucky days we may even find two quarters. Those days always made me feel proud. Strange what a quarter could do.
Did the other kids notice? Did they care? As an adult I know it doesn’t matter. Or at the very least it shouldn’t. But for a kid it does. Or for me it did.
Kids are kids. We were all curious. We all liked to ask questions. Some of us still do. Sometimes people like to point out the differences in people. Some use it against them. Some still do even as an adult.
Pell Grants during my time studying at Ball State and Purdue.
Unemployment benefits back in ’06 when the factory slowed.
Title IX money as a teacher.
I’m living proof that government agencies and those sitting in office can do positive things to assist our greater good. I also know that those that receive government assistance can, and do, lead productive lives.
A hand up
Not a hand outLynn Selmister
I lived hand to mouth until my 30’s. As a college kid I had to work to live. As a teacher I never really made any money. Even with my stipends for coaching, the studio, or being the team leader it was never enough to sustain a family. If my wife and I both were teachers we woulda been the working poor. Or at best living from pay check to pay check.
Missy somehow ended up in insurance and has lifted me out of the cycle of poverty and all the while she has been supporting my teaching, coaching, and now political habits and aspirations.
Nicely written Ken.
Mr. Sumner, former teacher and neighbor.
Thank you Mr. Sumner for being a great neighbor and teacher!