There are at least three saints named Valentine. Once upon a time, a priest named Valentine – who refused to comply with an order from a Roman Emperor to stop performing marriages – was condemned as a criminal. This Valentine didn’t lose his romantic idealism, though, and penned a love letter to the jailer’s daughter…who was blind from birth. Alas, Valentine was executed, but the young woman upon receiving her “valentine”, as the legend goes, was miraculously able to read it because she suddenly regained her eyesight.
One things bugs me, though. They left out the part about how that young girl suddenly knew how to read. Call me a “realistic idealist,” but I know that before you can learn to read you need a lot of practice and an attentive teacher. If you have a learning difference, that also needs to be addressed. And even if you don’t, you’d benefit from tutoring…and mentoring…especially if you grew up in poverty with challenges like difficulty accessing healthy foods, which improve cognitive development. Those who are exposed to the stresses of neighborhood violence may also suffer from chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…and the list of obstacles to gaining an education goes on.
That’s why this Valentine’s Day I’m sending a card to OpenDoors of Asheville…in appreciation for the work they do to gives underserved children hope, support, and…yes…lots and lots of love. Years from now, the money I could have spent on soon-wilted roses, but instead donated to OpenDoors, will still be generating a robust return on investment. Kids lives will blossom from the thorns of adversity. That’s what I call a sweetheart of a deal.
Volunteers all over Asheville will spend their Valentine’s Day and evening the way they do every day…working hard to ensure that these kids receive what they need to read, succeed in school, be healthy, and thrive outside the classroom, for the betterment of us all.
Written by: Tom Kerr