A quick inspection of any bedroom in our home tells a story. The beds have been respite for over 1,000 females. The walls have kept secrets that girls have shared with one another. The roof has provided shelter for over 52 seasons since it became a licensed group home. The re-arranging of furniture has left the floors to resemble a showroom found in a Rooms To Go store. Throw rugs hide the evidence of scuffs and scrapes that took the brunt of a desk, chair, bed, or vanity as a new child works to make the place her own.
Beside each bed, a family treasure provides evidence that this child has a history. A picture of a sibling, a pet, a parent, or a loved one greets the face each morning as the days are counted toward going home. Near the evacuation site hanging on the wall, each child has a calendar that waits to meet the staff each morning as room inspections occur. A smiley face is evidence that the room is tidy and a red face means tomorrow is a new day.
As the girls unload from the bus and race up the driveway for the afternoon snack and time spent with us the rebuttals begin as to why the room “really isn’t that messy.” More often than not, the red becomes a yellow, giving the child another opportunity tomorrow to try again. Anyone who visits our home after 4 pm on a school day is likely to be a part of the stampede into the home to process the day. We all stop what we’re doing to hear the daytime events unfold and catch up on life with our girls.
Phone calls begin as children call parents, case managers, therapists, employers, and significant others to bring them up to speed on what has happened during the day. Doors typically slam, children race across the lawn, many sit in the floor rubbing the belly of the agency mascot as we seek solutions for the days events.
To many of our girls, coming home to a family is new. Yes, it’s a place that has expectations, rules, accountability, and grievances. But despite the bureaucracy that comes with any licensed home, the home is filled with love. It is these four walls, one roof, and a scuffed up floor that each day from 430-515 pm you will find our ritual creates a feeling of family. It is a refuge where age, race, religion, and sexual preference are all cast aside to remind our girls that no matter what, they are loved.
There is a saying that I am fond of. “Some people talk to you in their free time, and some free their time to talk to you.” Take time to not only talk but to listen. Children who have adults to talk to are less likely to seek advice from elsewhere. Visit our website to learn how to get involved with a youth today. You’ll never know what a difference you can make until you do.