CMSD NEWS BUREAU
Wal-Mart came through Friday morning with an oversized $1,000 check for Luis Muñoz Marin School, but school leaders are convinced that there’s a much bigger payoff to come for their students.
That’s because the cash donation is really just secondary support for “Mi Futuro” (Spanish for "My Future") a yearlong mentoring program for eighth-graders at the bilingual school.
Olga Scott, who serves as the site coordinator at the school on Cleveland’s West Side, helped land the WalMart program. It is the retailer’s first venture into Northeast Ohio with “Mi Futuro.”
Site coordinators work at designated CMSD schools, providing community "wraparound" services that are tailored to the needs of the students and are designed to help the children and their families overcome obstacles to success. The coordinators are paid through a program funded by CMSD, the United Way of Greater Cleveland and other contributors. They work under the supervision of the school and a lead agency, in this case the Hispanic education-advocacy group Esperanza.
Heather Haberer, a regional human resources manager for WalMart, spoke to the teens for about 20 minutes (see photo below) before they broke into smaller groups to get to know the mentors who would be meeting with them monthly through the school year.
The other mentors were Maurice Moore, a market human resources manager; Rose Bardwell, a shift manager; Amber Scimone, an assistant manager; and Marlene Perez, a market human resources manager.
Haberer, who grew up in foster homes in the Buffalo, N.Y., area and then came to Cleveland as a single mom with two children, told the Muñoz Marin students that she had to get over acute anger issues but that she had learned that she did not have to do it alone.
“And neither do you,” she said. “You’re already miles ahead of where I was at your age because you have people reaching out to help you now.”
Principal Jeff Keruski gushed over the morning presentation and the how the program philosophy aligns with his own.
“Sure, we can use the money to buy some little things to offer as incentive,” he said. “But I’m already inspired today just hearing the first interaction with our scholars. I believe in changing the hearts, souls and minds of everyone I meet, including our scholars, and this does just that.”
Earlier in the day, Scimone, the assistant manager at the Steelyard Commons WalMart store, presented the $1,000 check to Keruski and Scott at the Cleveland store.