Lisa Fuller is a wife and mom of two great kids (ages 12 and 8). She cares deeply about social justice and is the director of Shine School Partnerships, a non-profit organization right here in Albuquerque. A Shine School Partnership is a long-term, committed relationship between a church and a school with the goal of meeting the needs of students, families, and teachers with no hidden agendas. Shine’s long-term vision is to see that every APS Title 1 School has an ongoing, meaningful relationship with one or more of the churches in their community.
Not only does Lisa have all that on her plate, but she’s a great friend too. I sat down with her and asked her some questions about her roles as working mom, the director of a non-profit, and mom of older children.
How do you work out the proverbial work/home balance? What does that look like for you?
I think what I’m doing right now that’s working is that I’ve set some really clear boundaries. I have certain days and times when I work, and then I try to turn it off at other times. I’ve learned that I don’t have to answer an email right away. I can wait until my workday to get back to people. In the past, I’ve felt like I had to be on call all the time. And I have some days that I do better than others.
Do you have any advice for women who feel like they might have a passion or calling for social justice like you do?
One of the biggest things that happens when you jump into working in the area of social justice is that there are all kinds of things to be afraid of. One of the consistent themes of my job with Shine has been fear. Be brave. Push through the fear. I have to be a consistent presence at the school with students, so when they ask you to go find a pair of shoes for a first grader (who’s wearing shoes two sizes too small), it renews your passion and makes you realize that children like her attend almost every school in Albuquerque. So I have to keep doing what I do and keep moving the ball forward even when I’m afraid because of those personal stories that I’m in touch with.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed or like the problems are just too big?
All the time. All the time.
How do you move past that?
The kids’ stories. Like the little girl I just mentioned. If I can make a difference for this one little girl and others like her, then everything I’ve done is worth it.
Do you feel like your role with Shine has affected the way you parent or train your children?
Definitely. Shine has become a family thing. My husband is excited about Shine. My kids come to Shine Club on occasion. It’s definitely something we do together. I’ve seen my kids become more generous. My son gave away an extra bicycle he had to one of our students. My daughter donates clothes all the time to the clothing bank at the school. Actually, that little girl with too small shoes got a pair of my daughter’s shoes. She felt really happy about that.
Our readers are particularly moms of small children. Do you have any advice about teaching little ones about social justice?
I think it’s one of those things you teach as you go along the way. So in your life if social justice is important to you and simply part of what you do, then your kids will see that. Take your kids along with you as much as you can, and make serving others a normal part of your life. With my kids, I try to help them see how similar they are [to people who are less fortunate] and how it’s not us and “those people.” Rather we all have a lot in common. My daughter plays with the other girls in third grade when she comes to Shine Club. They’re just like her, and they like the same things she does.
Any other wisdom for moms of little kids since you have older ones now?
Get a babysitter, and have a date night. Don’t make your life all about your kids. Someday they will not live in your home. Nurture that relationship with your husband even in those crazy days with small children.
If someone might want to learn more about Shine or get involved, what can she do? Where does she go?
They can go to our webpage, www.newcityabq.org/shine. They can get all the information there about how to get started with Shine. If you’re a part of a church, you can approach your pastor or leadership about becoming a Shine Partner. People can also contact me directly at [email protected]