Upon moving from a big city, St. Louis, Mo, to a smaller town like Springfield, Mo many people along the way have asked me what the biggest differences are between the two.
Of my many answers like traffic, food staples, and pace of life, something that has always stuck with me are the amount of non-profit organizations in the area.
I could not decide if I had noticed these organizations more because I was in a smaller radius and was more easily exposed to them, or if it was something else.
I have learned that Springfield as a whole is just simply a proactive, tight knit community that is truly involved in what can better the community and the people are always looking for ways to help each other out.
There are many big non-profit organizations that come to the top of the mind of many locals that are native to Springfield like: Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Ozark Food Harvest, just to name a few.
Each of these organizations, in their own way, have an ultimate goal to make a lasting impact on the lives of children in Springfield as well as the surrounding area.
There is one organization, however, that has received little attention it readily deserves and is striving to make a change in Springfield unlike any other called Cents of Pride.
In early 2009, Cents of Pride began a unique partnership between two area elementary schools Weller Elementary- a title one school- and Walt Disney Elementary.
The program went into full swing when Walt Disney Elementary became the sponsor school in that its’ students would collect items and donate them to Weller Elementary where they are put into a store created by the organization called The Pride Store, shown below .
Donations include a variety of items like everyday necessities such as clothes, shoes, and hygiene products to wish list items like games, toys and other entertainment mediums.
Weller students are given the opportunity to earn Pride Bucks for things like good behavior, good attendance and overall making positive choices at school.
The goal is to give students a reason to strive to earn things they want/need while learning valuable life skills at the same time.
Though, there is a deeper meaning to this organization than positive reinforcement within the school system.
Each of the title one schools are filled with many of the students coming from less than ideal home environments.
An even bigger issue is the poverty levels among the children in Springfield that are observed in attendance at some of these schools.
John Scroggins, Vice President at Noble Communications, which is a sponsor of Cents of Pride shares this:
“There was an instance where many female students would miss consecutive days of school certain times of the month. The reason being that their families lacked the funds for necessary hygiene products during the time of their menstrual cycles.”
Cents of Pride strives to make a change that targets the issues at the core to help set a proper foundation for the future of these students lives. They believe with this program they can enrich students by encouraging them to set goals and achieve them with hard work and discipline.
Their overall goal is to emphasize that it sets itself apart from other organizations by creating a system with long term benefits and instilling lifelong skills that could potentially break the cycle of generational poverty.
Marilyn Monroe, the principal at Weller Elementary says, “When everything else has maybe not been quite enough to convince them that making the right choices is good then this store idea has reached some kids that nothing else has reached.”