Social worker, Don Wessels shares a compelling letter how donations support LHS students.

Hello Colleagues,
The donation of twenty-five Kroger grocery cards - each with a value of $100 - was greatly appreciated by the students and their families. I explained to each recipient that the card was from an anonymous donor through the Lakeside Foundation. I always added that the person and family of donors wanted to honor the student and their family for their hard work and determination. I emphasized the opportunities that a high school diploma opens for them after graduation.

Appreciation was also expressed by the parents. One mother emailed words of of thankfulness for "remembering and caring for my children." Another sent a Christmas photo of her and her 5 children - two of whom are receiving services for autism and the eldest who is a Lakeside senior with a 3.5 Grade Point Average.

So many remarkable and resilient students were recipients. Over a half dozen of the adolescents reside with family in extended stay hotels but are determined to continue their education. One young man who resides with his mother travels to school and back daily from Memorial Drive by catching a Marta bus, the train, and another Marta bus before walking from the Publix on Shallowford Road to Lakeside. A young woman who lives independently through agency sponsorship makes a similar trip from Stone Mountain. Both students qualify for homeless status and could attend local schools but they are committed to graduating from Lakeside High School.

Several of the student recipients have encountered mental and physical challenges in their lives but their determined footsteps lead from the hospital directly back the doors of Lakeside for their progress towards graduation. The commitment of them and their families to continue their schooling while handling their additional daily needs is an inspiration.

Of special note is a recipient I will call Emily (not her real name). Emily began her Lakeside connection in ninth grade as an "A" student and noteworthy for her passion for learning. During the second semester she was hospitalized and thereafter underwent a heart transplant at an Atlanta children's hospital. She remained in an induced coma state for many months, loving parents always at her side - all while her mother was raising three younger siblings and her father worked weekdays and more. In spite of numerous ongoing medical complications and limitations, she has fought her way back to in-person learning at Lakeside. Emily - who is assigned an aide to help negotiate her wheelchair - has a 3.8 GPA and will be graduating in May with her classmates. Her journey is a another moving testimony to the synergy of motivation, medical science, and family and caregiver love.
On behalf of selected students and their families, thank you to our anonymous donor family for the generous donation of grocery cards and to the Lakeside Foundation for lending vital support to students. Please contact me if I may be of any future assistance.


Don Wessels, MSW
School Social Worker