A local perspective on proverty
“You’ve been given something very special. And if you don’t share it, you suck.” Matt Reeves, co-founder and co-director of the Frazee Dream Center in Greenville, had this message to share with well over 100 Furman students yesterday at his talk on growing up poor in Greenville.
Reeves, who began the community center with his wife Jenny in 2006 after years of just “making money,” spoke from the front of the Watkins Room stage without the need for a microphone. Today, the center operates a free preschool, an after school program and a summer program that serves under-resourced children in Greenville.
Reeves began his talk by impressing on students the importance of affecting change in the community. He then discussed the harsh realities of Greenville poverty. Reeves shocked the crowd by assuring them that just nearby he could find them prostitutes, that he knew a three-year old boy who couldn’t speak because he had never been spoken to. He also said there were 18,677 elementary children on free and reduced lunch in Greenville County.
Students, who were packed into the Watkins Room, some sitting on the floor to accommodate the large turnout, were asked to stand if their parents had never graduated from high school, then stand if parents had graduated from college. Reeves pointed out: most of his students will never have that path blazed for them.
“Not everybody gets to go to Furman,” said Reeves.
His answer to the question of what can be done was to ignore talk about do-nothing people, and to act and reach out to young people in poverty to teach them what it takes to be successful.
“What Mr. Reeves said was eye-opening and truthful. He brought into light truths we love to ignore. But it was more than that – it was a call to stop talking and do something!” said junior religion major Rebekah Bell, who herself runs a small camp for underprivileged kids in Laurens, S.C.
Reeves finished his discussion by encouraging students to give back by becoming mentors with the Frazee Dream Center.
The lecture was organized by Delta Delta Delta and the Heller Service Corps.