Education

Published on December 30th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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For Irmo High School staff, giving back to the community comes in all shapes and jeans sizes

Staff at Irmo High School wear jeans as part of a school charity to help families in need.

IRMO – Tameka Hosendove knows anyone can fall on hard times. In April 2014, the mother of four was enjoying a typical Saturday with her children when a small plumbing problem in their Irmo area apartment morphed into a series of events that eventually left the family homeless.

“The whole apartment flooded, and we later found out that the pipes in the apartments were all bad,” said Hosendove, who had left her job a few months prior to care for a child with special needs. “It turned into the worst nightmare of my life. We were doing fine, but just like that …we lost everything. I never thought I would be homeless. Now I know if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.”

With money running out to keep the family in a hotel room, Hosendove says it was her oldest son who went to a social worker at Irmo High School seeking help. The family immediately received food and housing assistance through the school’s Jeans for Community Cares program, a school charity in which staff donate $1 or more each week in exchange for wearing jeans to work on Fridays.

“So often people look at students and assume they have their basic needs met, but it’s not always the case,” said Irmo High School social worker Donna Carroll. “The Jeans for Community Cares program shows that staff at Irmo High School care about the needs of our students and are willing to offer a helping hand.”

In its second year, Jeans for Community Cares already has raised nearly $1,000 this school year to help Irmo High School families needing emergency housing, food or other assistance. Staff and community donations also fund other district and school charity programs, including: Abby’s Angels which provides clothing, food and school supplies; the Irmo High School Community Cares fund which can be used to provide families with emergency housing funds; and the Snack Pack program, a district-wide initiative that provides weekend food supplies to disadvantaged students.

“If we have a family that has a fire, if we have a student who is sick on homebound…if there is the death of a sibling or parent; we can pull from the funds or from the resources we have and offer help quickly,” Carroll said. “There’s a sense of community here at the school, and we take care of our kids and their families. We just saw a need, we had people willing to donate and it has just become this wonderful thing in our school and for our families.”

Today Hosendove, herself an Irmo High School alumna, is “getting back on her feet” and through a new district adult mentorship program says she’s making a better, more stable life for her family.

“I don’t know where our family would be without the help of Ms. Carroll and the staff at Irmo High School,” she said. “I want people to know that when they drive by and look at Irmo High School, there are great people inside…people who care, people who helped my family when we needed it most. I will always be grateful to this school. And when I can, I definitely plan to give back too.”

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