A Special Back-to-School Send-Off for Area Students

New backpacks, fresh boxes of crayons and sharpened pencils are signals that it’s time for back-to-school. But those essentials can be out of reach for school-aged children without stable housing.

Enter GOALS, a group of ChristianaCare caregivers who made sure that school-aged children at the New Castle County Hope Center had full backpacks and an exciting start to the new school year.

The GOALS service committee co-chairs are Tracy Conway and Gemma Lowery.

The Hope Center has provided emergency shelter for individuals and families since December 2020, when it opened on the site of a former hotel in New Castle, Delaware.

The service committee of GOALS, a ChristianaCare employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to “Growing Our African American Leaders Systemwide,” collected school supplies for some 130 students and hosted a family fun day at the Hope Center.

Leading the effort were GOALS service committee co-chairs Gemma Lowery, program manager in Virtual Health, and Tracy Conway, supervisor in Health Information Management.

Caregiver Lisa Marie Myers helped unpack boxes of donations from the Food Bank of Delaware.

A recent Saturday in August was about much more than distributing notebooks and folders, Lowery said.

“The kids enjoyed seeing people outside of the Hope Center,” she said. “We were their friends from the community, talking with them about their favorite subjects and what grade they are going into. There was fellowship in this time of crisis.”

A favorite was “Ice Guy,” the mascot from Rita’s Italian Ice. Guests munched on hot dogs and chips, heard from a speaker who had been raised in foster care and danced to a DJ.

And about 30 young people are going back to class with fresh haircuts thanks to salon gift cards for high schoolers.

A DJ dropped back-to-school beats.

Then there was the face-painting. “The kids felt special sitting for face-painting, with the attention they got and someone who fussed over them,” Conway said. “The day was all about connecting and supporting our community.”

Additional school supplies and surplus food went to other local community partners.

The GOALS ERG has nearly 300 members. It is one of the 11 ERGs at ChristianaCare, voluntary grassroots groups that promote an inclusive, engaging experience for employees. Learn more about ChristianaCare’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.