W.B. Mason became a Corporate Sponsor of School on Wheels of Massachusetts (SOWMA) in 2009. Since that time, the company has provided SOWMA with high quality school supplies to fill the backpacks of children who have no home to do their homework. Here, SOWMA Founder and Executive Director, Cheryl Opper talks about the impact of W.B. Mason’s generosity on the lives of SOWMA’s students.
By SOWMA founder and Executive Director Cheryl Opper
If you’ve never set foot inside a family shelter, it is hard to imagine what it is like; entire families living in one room; shared bathrooms, kitchens, refrigerators, and community rooms. No place to hang out with a friend and no space to call home.
According to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, more than 3,600 families with children are currently living in shelters, hotels and motels in Massachusetts, and nearly 10,000 school-aged children in the state are experiencing homelessness on any given day. The challenges associated with having no permanent place to call home causes many children to fall behind in school, to have developmental delays, and to have learning disabilities. By the time they reach high school, it is estimated that up to 75% percent of homeless teenagers will drop out before graduation. Since its founding in 2004, SOWMA has worked hard to help break the cycle of poverty by providing homelessness students with customized academic support.
A major part of our work is providing every homeless student in Brockton with a new backpack filled with educational supplies so they can enter the classroom with the same quality materials as their classmates. Since 2009, those valuable supplies have been generously provided by W.B. Mason Co.
To give you an idea of exactly what that means. W.B. Mason’s donation is enough to fill more than 1,000 backpacks a year with washable markers, loose leaf paper, crayons, glue sticks, colored pencils, pens, highlighters, scissors, erasers, folders, calculators, notebooks, and everything else a student might need in pre-K through college. These supplies enable SOWMA students to be successful in school.
In terms of the organization, this generous contribution frees SOWMA from the responsibility of purchasing $20,000 worth of school supplies each year and allows us to focus our resources on other vital educational needs. For SOWMA’s students, W.B. Mason’s support provides a chance at a better education and a chance for a better life.
Thanks to W.B. Mason and our other corporate partners SOWMA has provided nearly 1,200 students in grades pre-K through 12 with more than 26,000 hours of one-on-one afterschool tutoring, 3,025 new backpacks filled with school supplies, and 7,000 books. Fifteen SOWMA students have enrolled in college, one has graduated, and 15 more are planning to matriculate in the fall.
If you would like to support SOWMA or learn more about the work we do on behalf of children and teens experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts, please phone 508-587-9091 or visit us online at www.sowma.org. We would love to hear from you. Thank you W.B. Mason for being a part of our students’ success!