When Maria Ruiz learned a student’s mother had been laid off and food was running low in the household, she knew one thing might cheer him up — hot Takis.
So Ruiz, a site coordinator for Communities In Schools in Elko, stopped at a gas station for the spicy snack and scrawled a handwritten note: “Hey, buddy. I’m here for you. I’m thinking about you. I think you’re wonderful and this is going to go by fast.”
She left the snack, note and a box of other food at his front door. As she turned and walked away, she caught a glimpse of the eighth-grader waving from a window.
This is what it means right now to be a staff member with Communities In Schools, a nonprofit in 25 states and Washington, D.C., that works with vulnerable students. School-based staff members, like Ruiz, traditionally bring outside resources into schools to help students, but the coronavirus closures have changed the paradigm. Now, the nonprofit is tasked with bringing those same resources — and sometimes even more support — to students at their homes.