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Blue Coats-Family Edition

Friday Jun 17th, 2022

Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero.” Mr. Rogers 

The Blue Coats are everyday heroes to students at United Way Community Schools in the City of Erie and at Erie High School. 
 
As we prepare to honor fathers this Sunday, it’s important to acknowledge that the Blue Coats oftentimes fill a space for fatherless children. The Blues Coats are a formalized, highly respected group of men and women, including fathers, mothers and sons working side by side, who are impacting children who face tremendous obstacles—mainly poverty, dysfunctional home lives, trauma and violence. Because they have deep ties to the neighborhoods and families from which the children come, they help bridge barriers to learning by encouraging, listening, motivating and giving students the trust and confidence of knowing they will have a friend who will show up for them every day.  

We asked Blue Coats David Garren and his son Mike Hyder a couple of questions about their roles as father figures to the children they serve.

David Garren

Q. How does it make you feel knowing that you are an adult -- a father figure -- that students respect and who they trust will show up for them every day?  
A. It feels normal to me. All of the Blue Coats are the same way. It’s in our heart. We treat all of the children like they are our own. We love building relationships with young children and can’t wait to see them grow. 

Q. You and your son are both Blue Coats. How does your son inspire you? 
A. Oh, this is an easy one. Inspire me is an understatement. You live for your children’s success and their success is what inspires me to keep going every day. I know the future of my family is in good hands! I am so proud of all of my eight children but to work with my sons is a treat beyond belief! To actually witness the heart they have confirms for my wife and me, we did okay. They have huge hearts and care so much for our young students. The student’s safety and well-being has always been first for them. You just see the love and caring in their eyes! I still learn, even from my own children, every day. 
 
Q. How do you think the Blue Coats impact the students who you interact with daily?  
A. The students know when they see a Bluecoat, they are safe, and they have somebody there for them. They know they have someone they can trust. They know they have someone who cares for them. Even when we see them around town, the smile and look on their faces are proof we are doing great things for them and our community.  
 
Q. Explain the last time that you were WOWED as a Blue Coat. 
A. My wife and I were shopping at Sam’s Club, and I saw a young man from Erie High that we built a relationship with. The look I talked about in the previous question came over this young man and he ran over to me and gave me a huge hug and told me I was the reason he graduated. For a Blue Coat that’s PAYDAY. For me it was a huge PAYDAY. Yes WOWED! 
  
Q. Do you have anything else that you would like to add? 
A. Thanks for the opportunity to share just a small portion of the Bluecoat story. I want to recognize all of the Bluecoat Grandfathers, Fathers, Grandmothers and Mothers. We have a lot of them. “IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD”. If anyone knows that, it is a Blue Coat.

Mike Hyder

Q. How does it make you feel knowing that you are an adult -- a father figure -- that students respect and who they trust will show up for them every day? 
A. Even though I'm not a father, knowing students look up to me as a father figure gives me hope for the day I do become I father.  I will give my child the love, respect and world as I do for the youth I work with. 

Q. You and your dad are both Blue Coats. How does your dad inspire you? 
A. My dad has always inspired me to do better no matter what the challenge or obstacle, to give love and compassion to all equally. He always has inspired me to be a better man each day as well as to be a better version of myself.  

Q. Explain the last time that you were WOWED as a Blue Coat. 
A. The last time I was "wowed" as a bluecoat was when I had a student who I walked to school every day on the walking school bus, asked me for advice and not only did he listen and take my advice, but he even told other students my advice.  They also listened to him and passed it on. To me, that's a true blessing when someone trusts and looks up to you for life advice at such a young age and apply it to their own lives.  

Q. Do you have anything else that you would like to add? 
A. Being a Blue Coat, like any job, has its hard times and struggles, but the students whose lives we all touch--you can’t put a price on knowing that together we helped someone in some way. I love my team of Blue Coats, and, of course, I love my dad most of all. He pushes me each and every day to be better and better with each and everything I do. I know I make him proud. 
 

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