“Matthew Project” Set for Launch; Epi-Pens in all Springfield Schools?
“Matthew Project” Set for Launch; Epi-Pens in all Springfield Schools?

A new program to help Springfield’s homeless student population is set to begin this month.

The Springfield school board signed off on a plan to let the district pay transportation costs for the once-per-week “Matthew Project.”

“I’m just elated because this is the only after school mentoring and tutoring program I know of that’s exclusively, and it was Mrs. (Ann) Libri’s vision to serve homeless children,” says District 186 Homeless Liason Darla Haley.

The Matthew Project takes homeless students from school to a privately owned building on south 8th street on Thursdays and provides healthy snacks, tutoring and life skill lessons. It’s privately funded, with its tenets based on the Book of Matthew.

“When Jesus is talking to his Disciples and he says ‘when I was hungry you fed me, when I was naked you gave me clothing, and when I was alone you welcomed me in,’ and really that’s the essence of the Matthew Project,” said Ann Libri who, together with her husband Tony Libri, helped purchase the building on 8th Street with private funds. “They said ‘well, we don’t remember that, when did we do that?’ ‘Well,’ He said, ‘When you do it for the least of these you do it for me.’ And so, in the world’s eyes, these children are the least of these.”

The program will operate for the first time next Thursday.

Epi-Pens in All Schools?

The Springfield School Board wants to ensure students don’t suffer life threatening allergic reactions while at school.

The board wants to stock all schools with at least two epinepherine, or “epi”, pens in each school. It first approved the measure last year with passage of a new state law, but it’s moving toward implementation this year. Board member Scott MacFarland cautions the school-stocked epi-pens should be used only in an emergency.

“We still want to make sure students have a prescription carry their own, this is not the first line of defense” says MacFarland. “But for students who may go into shock and we don’t know they have an issue, we have that ready for them so we can protect them.”

The board’s measure was tweaked slightly so the epi-pens will be kept in a secure, but unlocked location. Not all District 186 schools have registered nurses on staff. The board will have to approve it on final passage in two weeks.