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Peperzak Middle School Serves

A man in a gray shirt and jeans speaks to a group in front of a screen with a bio of himself listed.
Joe Ader, CEO of Family Promise of Spokane, speaks to a group of students at Peperzak Middle School.

Something special happened this week after I had the privilege and joy of giving a motivational speech to 500 students at Peperzak Middle School. Speaking to middle school students is particularly meaningful to me because much of what I do to help the community was ignited in me at that age.

When I was 13, two teachers challenged me to never let a student sit alone. Despite my own insecurities, I took on the challenge and began sitting with anyone who was alone. This experience helped me confront my insecurities and develop empathy for others. Additionally, that same year, I served the homeless in inner-city Los Angeles for the first time and came to faith. These pivotal experiences during middle school shaped the person I am today.

So, when I was asked to speak to a group of middle school kids before their day of service, I was excited. I shared how kids like them can do amazing things to serve the community. The students were fully engaged and their response was fantastic, even cheering at the end of my speech. Teachers and students alike came up to me afterward to express their encouragement.

The last boy to approach me was different. He said, “My mom and I were homeless and we stayed at Family Promise. We moved into our own apartment in February and now I go to school here. Thank you.” He then helped me carry donations the students had brought out to my car. It never fails to bring me to tears when I see our kids rehoused and thriving. Even at Peperzak, the new middle school in the “wealthy” part of town, there are kids who have experienced homelessness whom we have helped.

Thank you for your support that allows us to serve these kids and their families.

Joe Ader

CEO of Family Promise of Spokane

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