Lily Eskelsen Garcia: The Road Home


by NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, this article originally appeared on Lily’s Blackboard

The Salt Lake Family Homeless Shelter has a history of interesting names. If you Google “Salt Lake Homeless Shelter,” you’ll be connected to The Road Home. I love this name. The Road Home is not the place, it’s the mission—the destination.

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I worked at The Road Home years ago as a public school teacher. Getting that assignment was a journey all its own. A friend of mine, and fellow teacher, Marilyn Treshow, had convinced Salt Lake School District to place a trailer under the 6th St. freeway viaduct—a place where homeless families would often park their cars while they looked for work or food. She wanted the kids who lived in those cars to have a place to go to school. Parents would bring their kids to the trailer school each morning. Marilyn would hold classes until afternoon. She’d walk her students to the local park and do a science lessons about how the grass grew, and how clouds were formed. They did art projects and wrote poetry, and read the donated books that filled the trailer.

Marilyn invited my late husband, Ruel, and me to come every now and then to sing with her kids. Ruel played the banjo and I played guitar, and we’d sing “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir” so they could laugh and make the animal noises. Marilyn would turn it into a rhythm activity and have them dance to our music. Marilyn was a teacher’s teacher. She knew the power of joy. She was all about turning love into learning, and learning into love.

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