A school security guard has turned a classroom in Albany into a sanctuary for kids.
The resource room at Giffen Memorial School has school supplies, jackets, shoes, toys, snacks and more. It started from a couple boxes of lost clothes and is now a classroom full of accessible items for students.
“My main job is to make sure all the kids are safe at Giffen, and I do my best to make that happen,” said Tonya Terry, a security guard at the elementary school.
Terry has worked security for the school district for 16 years. But her duty to protect the students goes far beyond her job responsibilities.
“I wouldn’t put anything on my child that I wouldn’t put on my own,” Terry said. “I believe it takes a village to raise a child.”
Thanks to her, what started out as a lost in found, has turned into a community corner and resource room for students.
“This requires a lot of work, considering that this is not my main job,” Terry said. “This is just something I do from my heart, because when a kid is safe, they feel comfortable and use their voices in a way you can understand and hear them.”
On Terry's off-time, she brings clothes home that were left behind by students to wash and fold before returning to parents. But this year, the school’s principal decided to dedicate a classroom so she could create a space for kids to pick up anything they need, including clothes, school supplies, toys and shoes.
It’s not just the students she’s helping.
“One day, a student came in because she was chilly, so I gave her a hoodie,” Terry said. “I later saw her in the hall and she asked if I had any baby clothes. I asked her, 'Who is having a baby?' And she said, her mom.”
Terry often stays hours past her shift, sorting and folding. But her dedication hasn't gone unnoticed.
One of Terry's first students from years ago has taken a page out of her book.
“She thanked me, and said she’d never forget me,” Terry said. “She took a couple pairs of my shoes, so she can fix them so kids can have it customized just for them.”
Terry knows she’s helping the kids, but what they might not know is how they have impacted her.
“It makes me get up every day and show up for work because they know they have someone in their corner,” Terry said.