Last Friday, Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud joined youth from the P.S. 328 Phyllis Wheatley My Brother’s Keeper Program, a troop of Lowe’s associates and The Fund for Public Schools to open a full-service laundry center that will serve the school’s student body and their families.
“The P.S. 328 MBK students’ advocacy exemplifies the program’s mission to address opportunity gaps and inequities among their peers,” said Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud.
“I am tremendously thankful to Lowe’s for their dedication to the students’ vision and for their all-hands-on-deck leadership in bringing the school laundry center to fruition. This project will make a major difference in students’ lives.”
This ribbon cutting realized the culmination of a year-long effort on part of fifth-grade participants in P.S. 328’s My Brother’s Keeper Program who lobbied Persaud last spring to raise awareness of school absenteeism due to students’ lack of clean clothing. In a virtual meeting, the MBK youth led Persaud through a slideshow conveying illustrative self-reported data on student housing instability and causal factors behind classmates’ absenteeism. Scores of students attending P.S. 328 return home each day to emergency family shelters and a majority of students attending this school experience poverty.
“Daily, I am in awe of the ideas that our students come up with, and the bold visions that they bring to fruition,” said P.S. 328 Principal Christian Pierre.
“Their capacity to see a need, and find a way to show up as empathetic leaders amongst their peers is inspiring, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to guide them on this journey.”
Having made a compelling case to Persaud, the students’ presentation and survey data landed at Lowe’s, prompting a team of executives and design professionals to meet with P.S. 328 students, faculty, administrators and parents for a site walk-through and visioning meeting. MBK students then held a central role in the design, construction and finishing phases of this two-month project converting a multi-purpose community room into a full-service laundry center now serving the P.S. 328 community.
The process initiated by P.S. 328’s My Brother’s Keeper program has further led to the introduction of legislation by Persaud (S. 934) that would provide a state-level capital funding stream for similar Title I schools to construct school-based laundry facilities to serve unstably housed students and their families.