I matter. You matter. We matter.
Entrepreneur and author Matthew Emerzian was in Fresno on Saturday to deliver that message in a tangible way to hundreds of Fresno County children and supportive adults gathered at Chukchansi Park for the second annual You Matter Day. It’s billed as a celebration of the power of all people, especially children, to change the world.
Little kids, middle schoolers, high school seniors actually hanging out together under the banner “Let’s Matter Together”? What’s that all about?
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▪ It’s about an assembly line, dozens of children strong, turning out 700 Blessing Bags, packed with toiletries for the homeless. They will be distributed to Poverello House, Marjaree Mason Center and other shelters for folks going through hard times.
▪ It’s about students writing hundreds of thank-you messages to veterans, encouraging them and expressing gratitude for their service.
“Thank you veterans for all you do,” wrote Destiny. “Your sacrifice and bravery will always be remembered. You are the reason we are safe today.”
▪ It’s about Jesenia Montez of Mendota, 18, one of many making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the folks at Terry’s House, a respite home for families whose loved ones are patients at Community Regional Medical Center. Dozens of volunteers will pack those sandwiches into brown paper bags decorated with smiley faces, glitter, and spring flowers to cheer them up.
▪ It’s about making the experience of picking up groceries from the local food bank joyful because the brown bags they carry the food in will be plastered with loving messages from the children: “Have a wonderful day” and “You matter to me!”
▪ It’s about learning that good health matters, picking up fruits and vegetables from OK Produce’s display. Last year one pop-up tent spawned dozens of farmers markets at the area’s neediest schools. Students are taught to run them, and parents can take home fresh fruits and vegetables for reasonable prices. “They sell out every day,” said Brady Matoian of OK Produce.
When a yellow school bus pulled up, the door opened and those little children file out to come here and change their city, it just gets me. I realize it is so much bigger than me.
Matthew Emerzian, entrepreneur and author
All this began with Emerzian’s action book, “Every Monday Matters.” It’s a how-to paperback to fill your life with philanthropy one Monday at a time. It was created to give adults a feeling of purpose in their lives, but educators quickly pounced on the idea as a leadership training guide for students. A curriculum was developed and now it is taught in 45 states and six countries with half a million people getting involved. Fresno County’s Office of the Superintendent of Schools offers it in many after-school programs.
Jim Yovino, Fresno County’s superintendent, said, “You Matter Day is a special opportunity for all students to participate in helping those in need. It’s a chance for the children of our community to spend time putting others before self, while having fun and meeting new friends. Thank you to the Matoian family for making this day possible for our Central Valley children.”
Emerzian was delighted to revel in the enthusiasm, pleased the event drew a crowd three times bigger than last year. He’s thinking big: What if we had a national You Matter Day?
There was a magic moment. “There is a thing about school buses,” he said. “When a yellow school bus pulled up, the door opened and those little children file out to come here and change their city, it just gets me. I realize it is so much bigger than me.”
Gail Marshall is an associate editor for the Opinion pages: 559-441-6680
You Matter Day
By the numbers
- 11 Fresno County high schools
- 4 middle schools
- 6 elementary schools
- 1-12 grade levels involved
- 641 students registered
Is your school involved?
- High schools: Fowler, Firebaugh, Riverdale, Orange Cove, Washington, Caruthers, Coalinga, Selma, Parlier, Roosevelt, Mendota
- Middle schools: Cooper, Alta, A.L. Conner, Grant
- Elementary schools: Kings Canyon Unified Elementary Schools, Lane, Washington, Lincoln, Tilley, Teague
- Details: Brent Smither, email@example.com