The Novack Fund Caroline Birdrow '16

For several years, Lesley and David Novack have provided the funding necessary for Hillel to purchase clothing for Rockbridge County's children in need. The Novacks, with the effort of volunteers from Washington and Lee, seek to help four children every year. They are identified by Michelle Hughes, a teacher at Central Elementary School.

Because Hughes has worked with the Novack Fund for several years and has witnessed its impact, Hillel decided to interview her. Hillel wanted to learn about the poverty issues she encounters as a teacher and the positive effects she thinks the Novack Fund is having on the children served. Hughes began the conversation by describing the rural poverty from which some children come, poverty that includes dirt floors, no heating in homes and a limited amount of food. She claimed that this type of environment affects the performance of many students, as they may arrive to school cold and hungry. Hughes emphasized the fact that these factors lower levels of concentration in the classroom and impair social interactions among students of differing financial backgrounds.

In spite of the poverty that the children face, Hughes stated that they have very hardworking parents who lead respectable careers. However, what might be a highly regarded job in Rockbridge County, Hughes points out, may not provide the income needed to sustain a family in today's economy.

Hughes truly believes that the efforts of the Novacks and Hillel are benefiting students in this community. Through the program, children are given the clothing required to live healthy lives and develop confidence among peers. Hughes described the reaction of one boy, who upon opening a large bag of clothes, exclaimed, "Oh, I wish I could pick them all." His disbelief that all of the clothes now belonged to him represents the gratitude and joy of many of the other children who are receiving gifts that they never would have expected. Hillel is thankful for the Novacks' generosity and happy to serve as a helping hand in such a grateful and deserving community.