Compassion Initiative

KidsreadingGrass What is the Jesse Compassion Initiative? A unique partnership with Tomah Area School District to provide opportunities for learning about and practicing compassion. By engaging students in the act of “paying it forward” and seeing needs in our community we believe we can create ripples of hope in our community. More than $10,000 in funds have been donated to Tomah Area School District, enough to support each classroom from the 5K through middle school, approximately 1,900 students. Giving each student an opportunity to make a difference.
 CompassionInitiativeSized What is the purpose? The overall concept is that compassion can be taught by exposing students to opportunities to help others. We all benefit from being concerned about our neighbors. Some kids may live in homes where there are no opportunities for giving and they miss the dignity and joy of helping others in their community. A habit of caring for others is important and leads to more empathetic and engaged children. Additionally, students may identify needs that are currently not being met in our communities, kindness through the eyes of child.
Jesse befriended many, encouraged us all, cared about others and treated everyone with respect.

In Jesse’s eyes,
“Nobody was a Nobody, Everyone Matters.”

Let his memory and legacy guide us all in the years to come.
Angie Gasser June 4, 2010 Tomah High School Commencement

Why Jesse? Jesse Parker is remembered most for his kindness and his steadfast support of the underdog. He noticed and encouraged those around him. After his death, his family heard from numerous people who had been touched by his kindness in simple, and quiet ways. One high school boy posted on his Facebook wall, “Jesse, you will be missed. You were the one person who was always nice to me.” Jesse believed we should all experience the joy and responsibility of making a difference. Not everyone can win races or awards, yet each of us can practice kindness.
How will it work? Teacher and student engagement is key. Teachers often share, “When kids return years later they seldom remember specific lessons or curriculum, yet they always remember some activity that engaged the student in something beyond themselves.” We want to foster those experiences. Each classroom instructor who joins the Compassion Initiative will discuss with their class ways to make a difference in their community. They will guide  students to meet needs that they see in their community. The most important goal is student engagement and ownership. Any activity that students feel can make a difference is valuable. Examples: Sewing caring blankets, cancer support, food bank, local fire department, animal shelter, special needs, gas card for a classmate who may have medical expenses. At the end of the year classrooms will share their experiences with each other and a formal report will be generated by the District describing how the funds were used.
Partnering with Rachel’s Challenge: The Jesse Compassion Initiative is proud to partner with Rachel’s Challenge, an anti-bullying effort in the Tomah Area School District. The goal is to encourage empathy within students by sharing the story of Rachel Scott, the first student to killed at Columbine Schools. Rachel had big dreams of helping others. For more information, visit