Volunteer of the Month
School day after school day, hundreds of small hands work tirelessly in Deerfield Beach, Florida to bring smiles and inspiration to Believe In Tomorrow’s children and families. These are the 750 art students at Deerfield Elementary School, who are working on their latest project to benefit Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, art teacher SuzAnne Devine-Clark wanted to start a program at her Florida school to teach her students how they could help others through art. She wanted to show the students that they have a voice and can make a difference. Each student would donate one dollar, perhaps thinking that one single dollar wouldn’t make a difference, but when that one dollar suddenly transformed into $750.00, the students realized that the power of one can make a big difference. As the years passed, SuzAnne chose a new cause every year for the students’ projects. “Who are we helping this year?” the fifth graders would ask at the beginning of the school year. The program was so successful that the students were always excited to help someone new.
For the 2011 – 2012 school year, SuzAnne reinforced the impact of one by introducing Loren Eisley’s “The Starfish Story.” The story epitomizes the idea that a single person can make a difference to someone else in the world. Using the story, SuzAnne decided to use a starfish theme for project, but did not have a cause to donate to. SuzAnne brought up the idea to Ellen McMillen, coordinator of the Wings for Angels project, who introduced SuzAnne to Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation. From the starfish in Believe In Tomorrow’s logo to the starfish theme of the project, SuzAnne decided that it was meant to be!
The 750 awesomely talented elementary school students busily began creating hundreds of starfish ornaments, each uniquely designed, that were attached to a copy of “The Starfish Story.” The project has since expanded to include decorative tiles, paintings, and wind chimes – all incorporating beautiful hand-crafted designs. Many of these pieces have been included in Believe In Tomorrow families’ welcome baskets when they visit a respite facility.
The art students are helping Believe In Tomorrow’s respite program in its early stages of expansion to the Florida area. Although there may not yet be blueprints drawn or a foundation poured for our next respite home, each and every one of the art students are helping Believe In Tomorrow leave its imprint on the Florida communities. Thank you to the students of Deerfield Beach Elementary School for donating your time and talent to helping make a difference for Believe In Tomorrow!