Every good deed should be applauded, but some people simply don’t want the attention that comes with the spotlight – especially when social media can now take away someone’s privacy overnight.
That’s why this group of adults has created an anonymous society dedicated to helping the youth of their struggling hometown.
The president, who now works as a scientist at a university medical center, is just one of a couple dozen members of SAYS – all of whom are successful alumni over the age of 35.
“Most of our members are pretty successful and now are at a point in their life that they want to give back, but don’t want any public recognition,” she told Good News Network. “This is why we will never release our full membership roster. These folks don’t need to impress anyone, we don’t need the recognition and we don’t want any ‘thank you’s’. We simply want to respond when someone tells us there is a need.”
By coordinating alongside a few teachers, counselors, and the Fredonia Unified School District superintendent Brian Smith, SAYS helps to finance whatever academic or recreational resources the teachers and students may need in the struggling Midwestern town.
“It could mean that we purchase sports shoes for kids who want to try out for sports, or teaching aids for teachers, or software that the school district cant afford.”
“We have a few members on the private Facebook page who will never address the community, but they want to see what we are doing and if they see a project that they feel strongly about, they will send me a private message and tell me that they will donate.”
Because the society is not a nonprofit organization, it is unclear how much money SAYS has donated to their hometown’s school system – but the president knows that they have donated at least $65,000 since they first formed in January.
Four SAYS members spent over $42,000 alone on a clothes closet that now provides free clothes, shoes, toiletries, and other school supplies to the students.
“The society wanted the room to be a “cool” place, well organized and decorated like a store, and more importantly, the members wanted to give kids that needed items to be able to go and get what they needed confidentially,” explained the president.
Other projects have included buying cameras for the schools’ journalism classes, an early learning center for pre-K students, a special olympics tournament, a prom dress giveaway, teaching aids for special needs children, and other smaller, more secretive projects that benefit individual students.
While one of the society’s key tenets is secrecy, not everyone from Fredonia can respect their privacy. The SAYS president first approached the Good News Network after she says that she was rejected for a story by the editor of their local news outlet.
“We have approached the local paper and they refuse … to publish a story about some of the things we have done to help teachers and students reach their full potential,” the alumni told Good News Network. “As editor, her response to why she will not publish is, ‘she needs the members’ names, because otherwise it would be fake news’.”
But the society members refuse to be discouraged – they hope that by publishing the accomplishments of the organization, other schools and alumni will be inspired to create similar initiatives for their struggling hometowns.
“With a published rate of 78% of children on financial assistance, it is evident that this little town struggles with many of the same issues seen in larger cities, those including drug use and the loss of industry that typically supports the town. We fill the gap between what is allowable expenditures through the state education fund and what is not allowable.”
“SAYS believes that every child has an innate desire to learn and that every child should be afforded that opportunity,” said another member of the organization. “It is our goal to foster learning desire by facilitating an environment within Fredonia schools that removes as many potential learning roadblocks as possible.”
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