To the Editor: As a longtime resident of Chesterfield County, where my three children attended school and my wife was a teacher and elementary...

To the Editor:

As a longtime resident of Chesterfield County, where my three children attended school and my wife was a teacher and elementary principal, the choice to join Communities In Schools of Chesterfield’s (CIS-C) Board of Directors was a good fit. When I first joined the board, I knew the county had poverty but didn’t realize the extent – I learned that since 2000, poverty in Chesterfield increased by 110 percent, affecting thousands of our community’s youth. CIS-C is doing something about it. Our work to serve 9,000-plus vulnerable students in Chesterfield schools levels the playing field for at-risk youth, removing barriers to their ability to succeed academically so they can graduate. Investing in them now, when they may otherwise fall through the cracks, means we’re investing in our greater community for the long run. 

 While Chesterfield County Public School buildings are closed physically, the needs of our most at-risk students have not stopped. Our most vulnerable students continue to require basic needs, social-emotional support, food assistance, and other critical resources. CIS-C’s incredible team of site coordinators and leadership staff has adjusted to our new normal by providing support to our students in innovative ways. They are reaching out through personal phone calls to students and parents, engaging with them through videos, and organizing home drop-offs. The CIS-C team is on the frontline of this pandemic, serving as a lifeline for our students. Our team is making sure our kids know that caring adults are by their sides and that their urgent needs do not go unmet. 

 It is my belief that community extends beyond the walls of a school, and our kids need their community beside them now more than ever. Beyond serving on the board, I’ve volunteered as a pen pal to exchange notes with a student through snail mail. It’s been a powerful way to show my support, and I know it means so much to the student. I want to encourage anyone to become a virtual volunteer, collect in-kind supplies, or consider a donation to support this important work. To learn more about how you can make a difference, go to www.cisofchesterfield.org/covid-19.

Bob Innes
Board Chair, CIS of Chesterfield