Why I Give
By Rickie Sanders, Sustaining Supporter
Parent of Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah ’96 and Caroline Sacko ‘01
Both of my daughters graduated from Greene Street Friends, one becoming a Pulitzer Prize Winning Author (Rachel) and the other a graduate nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Johns Hopkins (Caroline). I credit Greene Street Friends with giving them not only basic skills (reading, writing, arithmetic) but more importantly, training them to make good decisions, use executive thinking skills, and giving them ways to think about, and trust, who they are as individuals.
We were drawn to Greene Street Friends because it was welcoming of difference. I am a single parent. Seeing a range of different family constellations all committed to the same goals and supported by faculty was important - as was the commitment to racial and socioeconomic diversity. I appreciated that teachers saw each student as unique and evaluated them each on their singular ability. My girls were given freedom to learn (in their own, sometimes idiosyncratic ways.) They were encouraged to ask questions, be curious and challenge when necessary (to this day, I dread getting into arguments with them; they always win. Thanks Greene Street!!!)
At Greene Street there was an emphasis on learning through play and working out differences together. I respected the faculty and staff because they respected the kids. They realized that were in the business of letting kids see they were valued for something other than test scores or metrics. One of Rachel’s teachers once told me during a Parent Teacher Conference, “Rachel is very good at tests you don’t have to study for.” I’ll always remember that as one of the greatest compliments Rachel’s ever received, but that’s what Greene Street Friends is all about. You prepare students for the difficult life tests that they simply can’t study for, but matter so much. The simple, day to day trials and tribulations that form us all.
I started giving back because I knew that I owed Greene Street Friends something- I’d been welcomed into a very unique special community. I had also been educated. I would occasionally run into [Head of School] Ed Marshall and other parents who kept me up to date about everything happening at the school. I think philanthropy is a relatively recent practice for people of color like myself who have not always had the means to give. But I found that it felt good. My contribution is set up automatically so except when I want to increase it, I don’t have to think about it. Try to begin with something small and then gradually keep adding $5 here and there. I started off giving just $15 a month and have added a little bit at a time, still not giving as much as I would like. Giving to Greene Street Friends each month is like planting a seed and I want to see that seed grow into something really beautiful for the next generation of students.