Working with homeless children is one of the wonderful things that has enhanced my perspective on life. There are over 2,000 homeless children in the city I live in. Yet, when most people think of homelessness, they rarely picture homeless children. I’ve come to learn that homelessness is a cycle, and education is the best way to break this cycle with the children. However, public schools are not equipped to handle the unique needs of homeless children, and many times these kids just slip through the cracks. They can hardly focus on learning in school when they are uncertain if they’ll be fed that night or if they will have a place to sleep. I’ll go into more detail about this in a later post. Still, these kids are joyful and imaginative and full of love.
One day, our receptionist had just recently returned from bereavement leave, as her father had just passed away from cancer. The children adore her, so when she returned, they showered her with handmade sympathy cards. They drew pictures with crayons of her weeping over her dead father in a casket, and of her father being buried into the ground at a funeral. It was extremely touching.
As the children left that day after a swarm of holiday-themed activities, the silliest and most beautiful exchange happened. One little girl felt a special kinship with our receptionist because her father was dying, too. This particular day she was wearing a Santa hat and beard as she walked out to the bus. When she passed the receptionist, she exclaimed in her best Santa voice, ” HO HO HO! I’m gonna bring you a new DAD for Christmas. Just like the old one! To remind you of him.” And she danced out the door, leaving the receptionist in a bit of a shock.
If you met these young kids, you’d notice that there isn’t much that screams that they are homeless. Sure, they might be a little smellier than other kids, or possibly a little dirty. But they are curious, earnest, and beautiful just like other more fortunate children. It’s not their fault that they are homeless, and they deserve a chance to succeed.