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A Letter of Thanks

Newton Public Schools 
100 Walnut Street 
Newtonville, MA 02460 

Bowen Elementary School 
280 Cypress Street 
Newton Centre, MA 02459 

Fraternity and Fuller Lodge Masonic Angel Fund 
C/o David L. Eycleshymer, Jr., Treasurer 
342 Stow Street 
Harvard, Massachusetts 01451 

January 11, 2001 

Dear Mr. Eycleshymer, 

I would like to thank you, other members of the Masonic Angel Fund 
and Mr. MacDonald for the incredibly immediate response to my request for 
funds for one of tour Bowen School families. In my many years as a social 
worker in the school system, there has rarely been such a quick response 
from a community agency, public or private, to a request for funds. Even 
emergency issues for families have usually taken longer for response, and 
often have been less successful. 

This generous venture, the Masonic Angel Fund, that has been initiated by 
the Masonic Lodge, could not have been more timely for our community. 
Historically, I would say that the last 10 years, have been extremely 
difficult for people in need. Social services have closed their doors, 
often without prior notice to patients or clients, as did Newton Family 
Service Region West. As a society, we are becoming less empathetic to the 
stress and difficulties of children and families. While our political 
institutions talk a great deal about meeting the needs of families and 
children, it is more often the talk rather than action that persists. 

As school social workers, we have seen the stress of rising prices, reduced 
job security, less available work with reasonable benefits for white collar 
workers pervade our city and community despite a growing economy. 
Outsiders, indeed even some Newtonites, perceive the Newton community with 
an incorrect assumption Ė that our city does not have needy families. To 
the contrary, we indeed have families who require subsidized rent and who 
have no health insurances for adults or children. We have families who have 
suffered losses of the primary provider through death, illness, divorce. 
There is abuse that occurs in our households, and more violence than we wish 
children had to experience. 

On many occasions over the years, a child has broken his eye glasses and the 
parents havenít had the funds to purchase new ones; how does that child 
manage learning in a classroom? We have children experiencing neglect from 
their parents or caretakers, and abuse. Counseling resources in our city 
have become privatized and therefore, may be less accessible to families. 
While the few agencies we have may offer sliding scale fees for services, 
even these are frequently too expensive for the kind of ongoing counseling 
or treatment children may require to teach them how to better cope with the 
stresses of their lives and environments. 

Field trips from schools may cost as much as $25.00 per child because of 
transportation or entrance fees. Many families with more than one child in 
school donít have extra funds to manage this cost, yet want their children 
to participate in these valuable learning experiences. Most often, the 
Principal of our schools will use discretionary funds for this, but at some 
point it becomes difficult, and parents are embarrassed to ask. 

Some working families may find after school programs too costly. Many 
Newton children go to empty, unsupervised homes at the end of the school 
day. We know a third grade child whose mother leaves for work at 6:30 am so 
that she can be home after school with him. Her son is responsible to get 
up alone, get dressed and ready for school by himself, and walk to school 
alone. He is 8 years old. The motherís choice is not whether to leave her 
child unsupervised, but when. An unconscionable choice! 

More often these days, children and their families view their schools as a 
principle provider of security, stability and support. With your fund now 
entering the arena, we are provided with an additional resource to meet 
growing needs. Please be assured that we are very appreciative of your 
concern about this community, the effort that is being expended, and the 
generosity that is expressed. 

Miriam R. Vayle, LICSW, ACSW, SSWS 
School Social Worker 
Bowen Elementary School and Countryside Elementary School