Hello SOTGC community,
In the United States we have more than 1.6 million children that are homeless. Children that have no place to call home; they are living in a shelter, couch surfing, or, the most unfortunate, on the streets. (America’s Homeless Children – Unseen, but Counted, Huffington Post, Giraud J.M. 2013)
Last week I joined 14 wonderful people that chose to give of their time to help make a difference for all children. This group was charged with defining a vision and mission statement, establishing goals, and planning for a future that brings communities together to build a better tomorrow for any child. As I looked around the room I saw people from all walks of life; a president/owner of a construction business, a minister, director of missions, a hospital CFO, an attorney, general council for a state school board administration, a lobbyist, two school superintendents, a SVP of a financial advisors firm, a VP of an engineering firm, and a VP of marketing. Each person brought a different perspective to the table, but it was clear there was a common thread that held them together: passion to help each and every child with a need, any need. Throughout this two-day retreat, we bonded as a group while discussing issues we want to address through our mission.
We have a growing issue right in our backyard with homeless children. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, one in 45 children each year will experience life without a home. The constant struggle of trying to keep up with school work during these unstable periods result in nearly 60% of these children dropping out of school altogether. Once this happens, these children battle negative influences by others in similar situations, frequently resulting in a life of crime, welfare, or inability to obtain a financially stable job due to lack of education.
Homelessness is not the only issue plaguing the children in our country. There are other needs that may seem trivial to you and me, but could alter a child’s journey. In many situations children have a good support system at home, but, for economic reasons, the parent(s) are not able to afford some necessities, much less any little extras. Think about a child that has shoes being held together with duct tape because it is more important to pay the heating bill and buy groceries than a new pair of shoes. A tough decision like this creates a hardship for the parents as they try to meet the larger needs of the family. An unintended consequence is the impact of duct-taped shoes on the child’s self-worth, creating a range of emotions such as insecurity, embarrassment, and being left out.
There are thousands of stories out there that fit the above situations and many others. Countless situations arise every day; a child needing someone to read to them, a lunch buddy to come visit, a “grandparent” to visit them on Grandparent’s Day, a gently used outfit (new to them) for picture day, wanting to play an instrument but can’t afford it, a haircut, a number of things come to mind.
While the problems can seem complex, the solutions can be very simple. Let me share with you what success looks like in the scenarios above. A teenage girl, who was homeless and couch surfing since she was 16 and had dropped out of school, felt hopeless. She reached out to a local organization for help. She had a dream of going to college. This organization helped her pay for her GED (which she passed with ease), introduced her to a college counselor, got her enrolled into college, and worked with the school to waive her enrollment fees. It didn’t stop there. This organization leveraged the board of directors to help pay for her housing fees and threw her a Dorm Room Shower to get her started. This young lady has finished her second semester of college and is doing great.
Another success was with an elementary student whose shoes were falling apart. The school reached out to a local organization to share with them the need for a pair of shoes. This need was shared on their FaceBook page and the need was met in less than 24 hours with not one pair of shoes, but TWO, along with several pair of fun socks to make it extra special for this little girl.
Imagine the positive impact these girls felt with the acts of kindness from caring community members, such as you. As I reflect back to the board retreat I attended last week, I am reminded of the difference every person can make. When communities from coast to coast come together with a common mission to help our children, great things can happen. We walk away feeling good for helping another, sometimes in the smallest of ways, such as buying a little girl a pair of shoes, which leaves a monumental impression on that child. Most important is the hope and promise of a better tomorrow instilled in each child.
How powerful, yet simple those six words can be. Are you ready…Because Every Child Needs A Champion.
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The above success stories were affiliate communities of http://www.brightfuturesusa.org/brightfuturesusa. Send me a message if you want to know how you or your community can be a Champion.