Yesterday while driving with one of our first LIFE program clients, I was listening to a talk show with callers invited to recall memories of summers past. The phone lines were jammed with callers of all ages, from all across the nation reminiscing about endless days of swimming with friends, watermelon, family reunions, catching fireflies, making homemade ice cream, family vacations and making s’mores over a campfire.
I was quickly drawn back to present reality as I realized that the client who was riding with me had no such data-bank of pleasant childhood memories. Her childhood was marred by domestic violence, abuse, and neglect. She related that summers in her memory were long stretches of hot, sticky weather, boredom, and loneliness. There was never a family vacation; her “family of origin” was really no family at all. People moved in and out frequently; her father was unknown and her mother was distant and uninvolved in parenting. Consumed by her own emotional pain and drug abuse, her mother lived the “party life”. Our client and her siblings were often left to fend for themselves as very young children, and sometimes stayed with aunts and distant cousins in an over-crowded house where there seemed to be a perpetual shortage of food, clothing, and love.
Once again I’m reminded of the blessings I take for granted, even summertime memories. My mental health and emotional stability have roots in the richness of my childhood. The strong family unit that I took for granted provided stability and security; my friend has never known stability and feels insecure about almost everything.
Fortunately, this client is well on her way to building a good life for herself and her two children, but it hasn’t been an easy road. As a single mom, she works hard every day at her job and picks up the parenting baton after work. Her tiny home is clean and comfortable. The children’s toys and bikes are things she is proud to have provided through her hard work. As we stop by the day care to pick up the 4-year old, his first question in the car is about getting in the swimming pool. Just up the street we pick up the 8-year old from ESP; she immediately begins to plan what she would like to have for dinner, as the 4-year old gets louder and louder about swimming. Though the pool is just a tiny wading pool and dinner will be a salami sandwich, these children are excited about enjoying summer.
It’s hard to believe that less than three years ago, these two children were removed from their mom’s custody and placed in foster care due to her drug use and child neglect. Through the LIFE program, she learned basic life-skills. Through our classes at RCCWC, she learned how to care for a home in our housing, how to budget her money through our budget counselling, and has worked through her childhood trauma with the help of good counsellors.
Parenting classes have taught her the basics of what her children need from her. A good church family and positive friendships help keep her encouraged. And, her mentor is always just a phone call away when the pressures of life become more than she can handle. Just this weekend, her $800 minivan bit the dust and she is once again scrambling for transportation to get her children to day care and to work on time. (Yes, we are looking for another affordable vehicle.)
At Doors of Hope, we are delighted to do what we do. Our volunteers and financial supporters are making a difference every day. Our community becomes better and stronger with every citizen who is released from incarceration with a support system. Children in our midst have a better chance of growing up healthy and well-balanced in a loving, nurturing home with a parent who demonstrates love, nurturing and responsibility. We confirm through our actions that that “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
Thank you! It is the consistent monthly giving of our regular supporters that provides the cash flow of our organization that makes it possible for us to even qualify for grants.
Would you like to join us in making a huge difference in changing someone’s tomorrow morning? A pledge of $10 or $20 per month provides much-needed cash flow and enables us to make the dollar for dollar match required by the granting agencies.
A pledge of $30 per month, $360 a year, can provide rent for that first crucial month after a person is released. Click here to donate on-line.