By Julie McCay Turner
While it was challenging to secure the food purchased for the snowed-out event last Friday, the food served this Friday was delicious and enjoyed by dozens of families, some who ate in the hall at First Church on Great Road, and others who took their meals home to enjoy.
Bedford’s METCO coordinator Dr. Percy Napier, the volunteers and attendees were all smiles during last night’s event.
Late in 2012, BEST (Bedford Elementary Schools Together) partnered with Bedford METCO to reestablish the Bedford METCO Family Friends program. Family Friends, more commonly known as the Host Family program, has long been an integral element of participating communities throughout METCO’s 46 year history. The Family Friends program seeks to foster connections between Bedford families and Boston families with children attending school in town. These connections have an immense mutual benefit for both families. Boston students receive the benefit of having a much fuller Bedford experience that extends beyond academic domains. It is very possible for Boston students to spend their entire school careers without experiencing many of the people, activities, and events that make Bedford a wonderful place to live and learn.
Similarly, Bedford students and their families may get to know some Boston students, but may miss the richness of experiences that comes with deeper exposure to diverse perspectives and cultures. The Family Friends program addresses these issues by introducing families and hosting events that help families get to know each other. Over time, it is our hope that relationships naturally develop and form the basis for lasting friendships.
Over the years that various METCO programs have been in existence, it has become very clear that both Boston and local community families and their children have been profoundly impacted by the depth of relationships that have been formed through their families’ participation in their town’s host family program. In Bedford, some of our current METCO parents were METCO students, and they speak glowingly of bonds that were created between their families. One parent states, “It was a great experience because I was not only able to experience the academic part of being in the METCO program, but I also experienced being a part my host community.” Another parent explains that not only did he personally benefit from the program, but his friend often came to Boston to play games and visit different attractions around the area. The connections from this relationship still endure as they regularly visit each other over the holidays, a dozen years after his graduation from high school.
Bedford has had a Family Friends Program, but it has long been dormant, and it is now time to reinvigorate this program that has had such a profound impact on countless students and families. Attached to this letter is an information sheet that answers many questions that you may have about the program.
If you are interested in participating or have more questions, please feel free to call either Percy Napier, PhD, METCO’s Bedford program director, at 781-275-1700 ext. 3257 / firstname.lastname@example.org; or Jennifer Buckley, BEST Bedford/METCO Connection at (617) 519-7751 / email@example.com.