Every few months, Barri Waltcher receives a handwritten letter from Bronx 8th grader Lucas S. describing his academic and social awakenings.
“Sitting down and writing a letter isn’t something kids do regularly; it’s an old-school expression,” says Waltcher, a career coach from Manhattan. “I appreciate the value being conveyed by sending a thoughtful letter. I could tell this is a serious student.”
Such communication is invaluable to Waltcher, a Breakthrough New York Student Sponsor. Her annual contribution supports Lucas through six years, and is supporting his dreams to attend a great high school and a four-year college.
“I really appreciate the letters. It’s a special and unique connection that you can’t always find as a volunteer,” she says.
Introduced to BTNY by Board President Liz Sherman, Waltcher volunteered to interview students. Her daughter also served as a summer Teaching Fellow last summer. Barri then strengthened her commitment to directly support Lucas.
“Breakthrough is really effective at getting people to understand the impact of their time and dollars,” she says. “I liked the idea of having a connection with an individual, being able to see the arc of an experience, and know I’m making a difference in someone’s life.”
Lucas, who attends The Anderson School (PS 334) in Manhattan, is an only child whose parents work for JobPath NYC. BTNY, he says, gave him the extra support needed to lift up his dreams.
“I didn't have any other way to get help to get into a college prep high school,” he says, describing how BTNY has changed his demeanor. “I’ve definitely become a more confident and outgoing person.”
He envisions attending schools – like Horace Mann, High School of American Studies or Bard – en route to college and a career as a novelist.
“Breakthrough makes it easy and rewarding to be involved. There are so many opportunities,” says Waltcher. “There are many people who like to have a connection to causes that are of interest and Breakthrough does that in a such a professional way.”