Connections: An update from Overbrook Educational Center and Daymaker

During the 2020 Holiday giving campaign with Daymaker, donors gave generously to children supported by local nonprofits across the country.

The Daymaker team has met with our partners this spring, collecting input and feedback on how we can improve in the future. Below we are thrilled to share an update from Overbrook Educational Center, highlighting how the year has progressed for the families they serve and how the Daymaker campaign has impacted their service delivery:

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Our partnership with Overbrook Educational Center (OEC) began in April 2020, one month after the school district shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During those first months of quarantine, OEC went to work planning virtual end-of-year ceremonies, hosting a socially distanced Kindergarten graduation, and doing what they could to create joy for their approximately 300 K-8 students during such a precarious time.

Overbrook serves the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the entire Philadelphia Public School District. Nearly 1/3 of their student population is blind or visually impaired (VI).

Overbrook is a unique place in that they are both a Title 1 school, which indicates that children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment, and a community school, a mayoral signature initiative that embeds social services and other supports inside Philadelphia School District buildings in an effort to remove barriers to learning. Overbrook serves the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the entire Philadelphia Public School District. Nearly 1/3 of their student population is blind or visually impaired (VI). OEC currently has four VI classrooms, a life skills program for students with visual impairments, and have begun integrating doctors appointments into the school day for VI students.

Overbrook Classroom

Like many low-income families during the pandemic, Overbook parents struggled with food availability. Students were no longer able to receive the usual breakfast and lunch served inside the school. Overbook mobilized, covering out-of-pocket costs as a school, and began a reoccurring food distribution program that sourced food from two local businesses.

While explaining the significance of their partnership with Daymaker, Caroline Robinson, OEC Community School Coordinator, shared that "Daymaker was one of those partners that showed up, and continues to show up, ready to share all the joy they have to give. They provide our kids with high quality gifts that are... meant not just to help them have fun, but to encourage them to be curious, bold, and imagine all the things they are capable of. I hope that every school finds a partner like Daymaker, because every kid deserves those moments, and we couldn't be more grateful to Daymaker for bringing them to OEC."

Your support of their mission and families, through Daymaker, contributes to OEC's efforts to promote imaginative exploration as a means of revealing students' limitless potential. Daymaker's gifts arrived specially wrapped and featured the variety of play-based educational materials as well as interest-specific toys and books you purchased from their holiday wishlists.

All people, especially children, need play for intellectual and socio-emotional growth, as well as identity development and cultural awareness. Together, you, your co-workers, and our Daymaker team, were able to address this critical need that is often de-prioritized or overlooked due to the urgency of physiological needs such as food and shelter. We are grateful to be in the position to spark and extend joy for our nonprofit partners and their communities, and we are grateful for your contributions and collaboration in this work!

OEC's mission is to prepare students to become positive, productive citizens who can live independently and with purpose to serve others. They aim for proficiency for all students in each subject area and for the development of strong character. We encourage you to learn more information about OEC and the communities they serve by visiting their website.

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