Telling Tales 2021

My heart is full!

I’ve been reading your reflections after our annual storytelling fundraiser in early May and your comments about why Student Advocacy Center matters to you. One of my favorites:

“… You truly will do anything within your power to give a kid an opportunity. That’s all I needed was a little help being planted. …”

Isn’t that what we all need? An opportunity? Someone who really believes in us and helps us become rooted and grow?

I think of Damarcus, whose story was brilliantly performed by Detroit actor Jonathan Jones at the event. He shared challenge after challenge — family loss, neglect, a false accusation at school, harsh discipline, and even giving up on himself at times. Student Advocacy Center was there, persisting. Showing up. Offering that comprehensive support we do — even paying for a hotel in a very specific location (watch the story to see what I’m talking about).

I felt so proud and inspired listening to that story. His advocate, Margaret Harner, has long retired but her tenacious spirit and persisting love for our students lives on in our team today.

One of you shared: “You are supporting students and their families who have nowhere to turn. I found the stories shared extremely eye opening.” I think of Makayla’s story, shared by her mother, Charmelle. Makayla experienced such devastating harassment from her teacher and they continue to wait for answers. I know it took so much bravery to share these painful experiences and for me, they were so eye opening and a reminder of the work that persists for each of us.

One of you shared how moved you were by the story of Andrea Balma, whose 9-year-old was expelled. When Andrea shared the shame and hopelessness she felt after that expulsion — and the way SAC made her feel like a superhero parent — I held back tears. Haven’t all of us parents wondered if we were doing enough? Haven’t we all felt stuck and lost at times?

I loved the observation one of you shared about this story: “ Without supports of money and a good team, that could have been my child.”


Too often, we hear stories of struggles and feel some pity or relief that we aren’t in that situation. But storytelling is ultimately about connection.

We must see ourselves in these stories. We are all connected. That could have been YOU. That could have been me. That could have been a loved one. We are all hurt when families are discarded from their schools or struggle to find school success.

We are connected in the hope and healing, too. Truly, SAC could not do this work without you. The funds raised at Telling Tales this year will go right to work helping us make sure that every student gets that opportunity they need and deserve.

We know you could give anywhere. But you have chosen to be part of our story. And my heart is full.