Although I have a strong background in financial services and business & sales development, I am also a certified Elementary School teacher.  I had the pleasure of working for Merrill Lynch in  sales, but at some point early on in my career I decided to pursue teaching to make a difference. I was hired to work in an inner city school located in a very tough neighborhood. I was greatly impacted by that job. I had kids who came to school hungry quite often, some were well fed.  Some kids came to school in below 30 degree weather with no hats, or gloves and that influenced me. It was heartbreaking.

Going to work every day knowing I could directly impact someone’s life was very meaningful.  Also, when you have kids who have tough home lives you also tend to see a good amount of behavioral issues. I had a few kids like this. My strategy was to work with their strengths. For example, we decided to have a class play and I made the one most disruptive child in the class have a lead role. It empowered her and she really shined.  I decided at the end of the play the kids would sing a song, “Lean on Me”.  They had a tremendous sense of musicality and rhythm. I remember having the school principal in to see the play and listen to the song, and she couldn’t get through even part of the song. She was so moved by it.

Virginia was one special teacher who I had the pleasure of working with.  She served as a great role model to me in my early twenties. I had just started this job, and lost my mom a few weeks later. I had been visiting the hospital every day since August.  Thankfully, she was a great support system. But truth be told you cannot let your guard down with these kids.  So after one week, I was back working and dealing with the loss of the most influencial person in my life. 

I had never met anyone in my life who was as caring and loving as Virginia. She was in her sixties and drove to work every day and had some ailments too. She would buy gloves, hats and have cookies and food for the kids. I learned a lot from her and did what I could to support the kids struggling in my class. I gained a sense of compassion from this experience which has influenced my entire life.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have taught with such kind-hearted teachers, and such sweet kids who truly appreciated me every day.

Over the past few years I have been a volunteer chef at a local pre-school in my community. A large percentage of the pre-schoolers are homeless and in need of a warm, nutritious meal. They are provided with a daily warm breakfast, and lunch.  Multiple groups/businesses take part in feeding the kids. Some dishes I have prepared in the past are: baked potatoes with all the fixings, pasta, chicken soup, Sweet Meatballs & Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, and many other nutritious meals.  The sweet meatballs they especially loved. I provided you with the link to the recipe. Using my skills as a chef to feed and nourish these kids gave me great joy. The school has since closed, but I cherish those memories. 

Remember to bring food to your local food pantry, drop off baked goods at the local senior center, serve a meal at a soup kitchen.  There are so many ways to give back.  Here is a link to Feeding America which will give you a list of your Local Food Banks . What you will receive will be beyond measure.  

Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year! 

xo  Mariooch


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