Written By Abby Loomis, Program Manager, America SCORES Bay Area
In March, when J. Serra (4th) grader Diego raised his hand to suggest an idea for his team’s service-learning project, he didn’t know that very same hand would soon be shaking that of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
This unlikely duo came together to celebrate the first ever SHOUT! at Civic Center on May 15, 2012, where the Mayor honored four SCORES teams whose service-learning projects demonstrated commitment, teamwork and compassion.
Ironically, the J. Serra boys team project idea emerged from a moment of intolerance: when one of Diego’s teammates suggested that they help the homeless, another asked, “but won’t they just spend that money on drugs and alcohol?” Instead of simply lecturing the student, J. Serra Coach Edgar took the opportunity as a teaching moment. He shared about his own friends and family members who had experienced life on the streets, and the variety of reasons that had led them to end up there.
“The students weren’t aware of different people’s situations,” said Edgar. “It was a great opportunity to change their perspective on homelessness.”
The team eventually decided to base their project on a collaboration with Street Soccer San Francisco, a homeless soccer team who would soon be competing in New York City for a chance to play in the Homeless World Cup. They invited Street Soccer director Rob and two of his players, Carlos and David, to the school to run an informal practice. As they stretched, Carlos and David shared stories and talked about the importance of listening and setting goals. “It was interesting,” said Diego, “Because Carlos escaped from his house, and his family, and that’s very rough.”
After this meeting, the boys got into action. They crafted a letter describing their project and went door to door, raising a dollar for every ten toe-touches they performed. With the money the boys raised, Coach Edgar purchased soccer equipment for the new Street Soccer women’s team. The Jaguars also put their artistic talent to use by creating an enormous flag for the Street Soccer team to take with them to the tournament in New York City.