United Way Spotlight: Amy Barrett
#LoadsofLoveKC began in 2016 as a special Giving Tuesday campaign to positively change school attendance culture in our community. Every day, we see just how much a simple load of laundry can truly change a life.
Ensuring basic needs
At Raytown High School, Ms. Amy Barrett, registrar/counseling secretary, has made it her mission to help ensure students’ basic needs are met. If a child doesn’t have access to electricity or water, Ms. Barrett will make that connection, either through colleagues or student word of mouth, and she will do laundry for those kids. With the help of a local church and other RHS staff, Barrett has even started a clothing closet and even a weekly food drive.
Knowing somebody cares
Why does Ms. Barrett do it?
“These kids, when you make that connection, it’s sometimes their first time knowing somebody cares, somebody is really there,” says Ms. Barrett. “‘Ms. Barrett’s going to fix it for them. Just go ask her for a shirt, go ask her for a snack.’ That’s where it all starts.”
A simple load of laundry not only helps keep kids in the classroom, ready to learn, but it facilitates trust and, sometimes, even a lasting relationship.
More than a washer and dryer
When Ms. Barrett first started the program at Raytown Middle School, she connected with a sixth-grade female student who had a big need. The girl came from a big family with five adults in the home and several young kids, and they didn’t have regular access to laundry. Ms. Barrett would have the student bring her a bag of clothes every Monday; she would wash and return them that same day. They would do this again on Wednesdays to make sure the girl had enough clean clothing to last her the rest of the week. That student went on to graduate in 2016 and joined the military. She has written Ms. Barrett several thank-you notes over the years, and it never fails to bring tears to her eyes.
“I love my job. I love these kids. And that’s why I do what I do.”