In 2006, Cindy Barry was hired as a Parent Support Specialist in Round Rock ISD. She was hired to build a bridge between home and school; locate invisible parents and educate them, empower them to get involved in their children's education.Through her work she discovered a homeless population people weren't aware of. A boy sleeping on a bench by a local hamburger stand while another missed school for a week because he didn't have a pair of tennis shoes to wear to PE. Then there are the "couch hoppers." Kids who crash in the living rooms of friends because they don't have anywhere else to go.
Cindy uncovered the reasons students missed school. Hungry and homeless students hide their secrets,ashamed for people to know their circumstances. This petite woman with a giant heart began to feed them before they headed for class and that small act of kindness proved she was trustworthy. Once the trust was established,the students began pouring out their stories and Cindy began to catch their tears; the tears that fueled an engine that has run nonstop for six years.
She started out by asking her neighbors to help her out with a little pocket change so she could keep a stash of granola bars in her office but the more stories she heard, the more resources she needed.
Cindy has facilitated job interviews, medical appointments, and clothing donations for hundreds of students. She and her crew of volunteers have helped students move into their own place and taught them the discipline of budgeting.
On June 1, 2011 budget cuts ended her position with the school district.
I had built relationships with kids and their families. I couldn't let the absence of a paycheck keep me from helping them. I wasn't willing to disappear.I couldn't let them down.
For almost a year, Cindy has continued to run her program without funding. Instead of an office at the high school, her garage is now a warehouse for gently used clothing, backpacks and toiletries. This single mother of four remains prepared to meet the need when her cell phone rings and she says she receives phone calls daily about students in crisis. In turn, she calls on people in the community that are willing to help when they know the need.
While at the gas pump, a young man recently approached her. "You probably don't remember me but a few years ago, you gave me a pair of shoes.You paid attention to me that day. No one thought I'd finish high school but I did and now I'm getting my Associates degree."
Cindy is leaving her Fingerprint in the Round Rock, Texas community. To donate money, gently used clothes, blankets,backpacks, toiletries or to invite Cindy to speak to your club or organization, email her @ firstname.lastname@example.org