The following blog entry is provided by Common Ground Community Center, winner of the 2020 FBB Compassionate Impact Grant.
I answered the Common Ground Community Center phone from home late Sunday night, because we're all on Covid-19 quarantine time, and listened to a desperate dad's story about his son, Aaron. Marcus, Aaron's father, tells me they are immigrants of Latino origin. Aaron is fifteen years old and gay. He excels at math but has trouble reading. He doesn't fit in. He's depressed and anxious. Bullies target him. All of this to say “can you help us?” And although I don't tell Marcus this, his story brings me back to more than a decade ago when I made the same desperate calls for my own son. But back then, I could not find solace or support or a community of like-minded people to help me help my child. I spoke with Marcus and his wife for over an hour and we were all relieved and happy to know that together we can help Aaron.
For years people didn't know what box to put us in. What are you? Who are you? Why are you doing this? It's a challenge to box the unboxable. We felt pressure to conform to what people could wrap their minds around. But we couldn't. It's not who we are. So challenge accepted. We started a project that seemed very logical to us. Logical, but not simple. We set out to create a community and way of educating kids that did not fit the norm. We knew what we wanted theoretically: a community of families and educators that is secular, diverse, inclusive, and that embraces what people outside of the box might consider quirky or eccentric.
In September 2010, we opened Common Ground Community Center with a mission of "Bringing People Together As We Are." We operate a microschool and a homeschool collaborative. Our students, families, and staff are as diverse as the world in which we live. We are a secular organization that welcomes people of all faiths and world views, with the understanding that to function as a cohesive community, we must be kind and accepting to those whose differences we don't understand. We are people of all colors, races, and histories, with an understanding that Black Lives Matter, that the lives of People of Color are precious and in danger, and that it is our duty to stand with them as allies and friends. We are LGBTQ and allies, and we are obligated to teach ourselves and our children the beauty of our differences. We are a community of old and young, of differently-abled, of people with quirks and tics, and of rockstars.
We are a community of people who answer the phone and say yes, we can help, and we are grateful and humbled to be the recipient of the Foundation Beyond Belief Compassionate Impact Grant. This grant will allow us to help more kids and families be who they are in a safe, fiercely scrappy, loving educational environment. We are Common Ground Community Center. Stop by for a visit on the other side of this pandemic. Cheers!
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