Kathleen Camarillo is a teacher at Haynes Elementary School in the Ontario Montclair School District. Over the past 16 years in the classroom, she has learned that children in our community need much more than academic instruction.
This reality really hit home when Ms. Camarillo received a drawing from one of her students, Melvin. In the picture was his brother, grandmother, and their home. Melvin was a quiet kid who didn’t speak much and it took a lot of prompting for him to engage in the classroom. “As I analyzed the drawing, I realized that there was a kitchen with no refrigerator and a pantry with no food,” Kathleen said. “He later broke down in tears explaining that he was hungry.”
Fortunately for Melvin and his brothers, they were signed up for the Kids Pack program at their school. Thanks to Inland Empire United Way, they are now fed over the weekend and continue to excel in the classroom.
Kathleen attended the Inland Empire United Way Challenge for Children Gala on March 9. She spoke before a crowd of 550 business leaders and community members. She shared her experience of how she sat in those same seats, at an event four years ago, and listened to the story of a family impacted by United Way. “The story on the screen was that of a family I know – and as I sat in my seat and sobbed, I realized that when you think you’re doing a lot, there’s always a way to do more,” Kathleen said.
“The need in our schools exceeds anything that I expected when I became a teacher. But with the help of United Way and programs like Kids Pack, School Tools, and Promise Scholars, I’m grateful to be able to impact the lives of my students and help them reach for a brighter future,” Kathleen concluded.