Paola Brinkley, World Languages teacher at Salem High School, is passionate and enthusiastic. That much is clear the moment you meet her.
Brinkley, who heads up the Spanish Honor Society, came to her Society members in October with an idea for helping Spanish-speaking children in need. Brinkley’s friend, Tricia Downie, adopted her daughter, Sofia, six years ago from Guatemala. Brinkley, Downie and the Spanish Honor Society agreed to help out Casa Shalom, an orphanage in Guatemala where Downie and her family do service work.
“I adopted Sofia, but I adopted Guatemala,” Downie said when she spoke to the honor society two months ago.
After just one week of collection, students and teachers at Salem High School donated a total of $1,432 to Casa Shalom–$835.17 of which was given solely by Brinkley’s world languages students–and will be able to help 23 children at the orphanage with school uniforms and other school supplies.
“I’m a firm believer that education is the way to break the cycle of poverty,” Downie said. “What they really want is an education so they can rise above what they were born into,” she said of the children at Casa Shalom.
The students at Casa Shalom begin their school year the second week in January, according to Downie, so the donation will come at a great time.
“They [the Spanish Honor Society students] learned how education is in Guatemala and how fortunate they are,” Brinkley said. “The thing that touched me–the very first day, without ever going home to their parents, they were pulling money out of their wallets,” she said of her World Languages students.
Even Brinkley’s own children donated their allowance money to help out those less fortunate, she said.
On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Spanish Honor Society presented a check to Downie, who helped to coordinate their donation–and Downie brought Sofia.
“Thank you for helping my friends,” Sofia told the class.