The Presidential Citizenship Medal recognizes American citizen who have
“performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their follow citizens.”
When I was a special education teacher and then an assistant principal, many of my “kiddos” lived in extremely impoverished conditions (including in some cases no running water or sheets for doors in their trailers). I have known first-hand the ache of wanting to help children feed their bellies or find safe shelter. My friend, Mary K. Hoodhood, has experienced this as well.
When the Ford factories closed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, many families who once could provide, no longer could. It was during this time that Mary Ann Prisichenko, who is a school principal, explained to her friend Mary K. that she caught kids digging through a trash can… searching for their dinner.
This story reminded me of my former elementary students who were hungry. They struggled with learning and retaining information. Often they were sick. They were frequently in a survival-mode thinking of their physical hunger needs instead of being able to focus on the task at hand such as learning their multiplication tables. There are many children around the country with similar needs.
According to the Share of Strength: No Kid Hungry’s Childhood Fact Hunger Sheet (2011):
- More than 16 million children in America are at risk of hunger. That’s more than 1 in 5.
- 15.7 million children in America live in poverty.
- Over 20 million children get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day.
Mary K.’s organization Kids' Food Basket successfully meets the needs of the children in her town. It is so empowering for the over 150 community members volunteers each day to pack and deliver these sack suppers, particularly when you learn that some kids know that they are making their own dinners. Currently, the Kids Food Basket serves over 4,800 children at 32 schools, along with a summer program that serves hundreds of kids.
Hearing her story on Ray Leonard’s radio show, doing an interview to fill in the gaps on the phone, attending a KFB fundraiser, and interviewing this incredible woman on camera was fabulously inspiring to me personally. I continue to be blown away by her passion for the cause. I was also moved to tears by the love between her and her husband. She told me about Jeff in the following excerpt from the book which explains a part of what it was like to wake up as a quadriplegic…
“I have been married to my husband, Jeff, now for thirty years. I recall when I woke up after the accident, my first thought was,‘Jeff will never leave me.’ I knew in my heart that even though we were not yet married, he would be by my side. He says with a grin that he knew ‘he couldn’t let this one get away.’ Even though others were concerned that caring for me would take a toll on our relationship, we have proven how strong our love is for each other.”
It is seeing first hand this type of love and self-less service towards others that fills my heart with great joy. I am delighted to be the storyteller to spread the inspiration. Thank you to Mark K. Hoodhood who received acclaim from Lifetime Television and the Presidential Citizenship Medal. If you want to help, please visit Kid’s Food Basket’s website. Even if you can’t donate money, check out how a group of children can color lunch bags to brighten the day of children in need.
Please let me know if you were moved by Mary K. Hoodhood’s story in this post and in greater detail in Ordinary People Extraordinary Planet. Think about all the things you are capable of doing and then utilize your skill sets as Mary K. does daily!