From time to time, children will send Portland Audubon their birthday money, bar or bat mitzvah money, or funds they receive at Christmas and other holidays. This is the third time Mateo has made a gift this year, so as a parent myself, I was a bit curious about who this child was and how the gift came about. Was this gift Mateo’s idea or his folks’?
Turns out, it was all Mateo, says his mom, Holly Matthews, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in trauma healing in both adults and teens. “Mateo is a big-hearted kid, and he loves birds in particular,” she said. A first grader at Hayhust Elementary in Portland, Mateo “worries a lot about climate change, and he wants to do what he can.”
Holly and her husband and Mateo’s dad, Filip Hristic, principal of Wilson High School, watch nature TV shows with their son, and read to him about science. Sometimes the programs mention the threatening and scary conditions animals face because of the warming earth and rising oceans.
“When there is a wave of worry or sadness, like an island of garbage in the ocean, we talk about what we can do,” Holly said. “That’s important for us so we’re not just despairing. We look for what we can do and ways we can contribute. Service is important to both Filip and me.”
As a way to help, Mateo chooses to send money to Portland Audubon because he’s visited many times. “I like the birds and walking in the woods. I’ve seen birds’ nests on the side of the building, and I like to hear the frogs, too,” Mateo said.
“Both of our kids feel deeply and are concerned about the earth and the future of all of us,” Holly said. It makes me feel hopeful, because I imagine there’s a lot of kids who feel this way. There are a lot of sensitive, caring kids.”
Thank you, Mateo. It’s our members who fill Portland Audubon’s staff with gratitude.