For nearly 30 years, Tammy Neuman has been helping kids succeed.
While working as an elementary school teacher in the Surrey School District for 27 years, Neuman was always involved in anti-poverty issues at her school.
She would buy winter coats for kids in need, provide lunch boxes when she could and even helped a student who had been evicted from their home find a new place to live.
Recently she retired from her teaching career due to health reasons but felt she still had a desire to give back.
That’s when she, along with three other colleagues, started the Bright Beginnings Foundation to help give students living in poverty an opportunity for a post-secondary education.
The goal of the foundation is to provide deserving Surrey students with tuition, books, accommodation, food and even transportation to and from school through to the completion of their chosen program, to help them gain employment and to break the cycle of poverty.
“In Surrey we have more than 45,000 young adults who live in poverty and this may become generational. And unless they have a post-secondary education, the cycle will not be broken and that’s where we come in,” said Neuman.
“We have a grand scheme, we would like to be able to help perhaps five kids a year with a whole mentorship village, too.”
So far through private donations and some funding through the Surrey Teachers Association, the group has been able to help one young single mother buy safety equipment and tools so she could attend the carpentry program at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University trades campus in Cloverdale.
“They bought me $1,000 worth of stuff that I really needed, a new pouch, a hammer,” said Rowan McAlpine, 18, who graduated from Guildford Park Secondary in June.”
“It made such a huge difference to me, I was able to do the job properly with the proper tools, it saved me so much money.”
Recommendations and applications for financial help can come from various sources, including school counselors, and funding will be based on need with students required to provide a copy of their transcripts along with proof of income.
The group is still hoping to secure more sustained funding and is looking for anyone who would be willing to help.
“We are looking for partners, not only financial, but also partners who will help us network, host fundraisers, mentor – there are any number of ways to help,” she said.
For more information on how you can help go to http://brightbeginningsfoundation.ca/