A woman arrives at Inn from the Cold, the family emergency shelter where I work, seeking refuge. She is pregnant, alone, scared.
Her life has not been easy.
Poverty. Abuse. Addictions.
They’ve all taken their toll.
She’s had other children. All have been apprehended by Family Services.
She desperately wants to keep this one. She desperately wants this time to be different.
She has known no other way than the hard road.
Will she find a softer landing this time? Will she find the help she desperately needs so she can proudly call herself a mother, without the shame of the past haunting her?
Will she be able to hold her child in her arms? Watch her go off to her first day of school, graduate from high school, go to college, get married? Be there for the significant milestones? The milestones at which no one was ever there for her.
There is hope.
For this mother and so many other mothers like her who have only known the hard road and are now, finding shelter, sanctuary, healing at The Inn.
Every day mothers like this mother, and fathers and grandparents too, who have not had an easy road find their way to the Inn seeking that one thing they seem to have lost completely, hope.
And at the Inn, they find it. Along with the possibility of a better tomorrow for them and their children.
It’s not easy work. But then, being born into poverty, moving thousands of miles from a war torn land only to find yourself destitute, without a place to call home, is not the easy road either.
See, we all want to be good parents. We all want to believe we are doing our best to provide for our children, to create safe and loving homes where they can grow up knowing life is not as hard as we’ve known it.
We all want to believe.
And then life hits. And we stumble and get back up. Sometimes, if we don’t have the resiliency to withstand life’s stumbles, the getting back up is not far enough to bring us out of where we were. And we stay trapped.
And then, as we struggle to rise up, judgement from others hits too.
It’s your own fault, they say. You’re an addict. You have no education. No skillset. Look at you. What have you done to improve yourself? What have you done to make it better? My parents were immigrants, they managed. Why can’t you?
Sometimes, the only answer is, I’ve survived.
I’ve survived to this moment, right now, where I am reaching out for help.
I’ve survived whatever life has thrown in my path until this moment, right now, where I am able to see the possibility of a different path.
I’ve survived, war, famine, terrifying journeys in a small boat where I had to pay my entire life savings to cross an angry sea so that my family could have hope for a better future.
I’ve survived. And now I’m here. Can you help me?
Every day, children and their families come to the Inn seeking hope for a better future.
They’re not seeking fame and fortune, the keys to the city, a pulpit to stand on.
They are seeking hope, possibility, a future.
And everyday we provide shelter, sanctuary and healing so that better is possible. So that the future is not as grim, or hard, or bleak as the past.
We take the long-view. The view that says, to create better we have to start with the small steps right now that will move a family back home as quickly as possible without too much disruption to the delicate fabric of a child’s developing mind and body. From the sanctuary of home, we can work together to create healthy relationships, healthy parenting, healthy eating habits… whatever is needed to create a healthy environment for children and their parents to thrive and live without the fear of homelessness rearing its head on some dark and terrifying horizon.
For that mother, the one who yearns to see her child grow up, hope is there. Possibility exists. But only if we create a path for her to be safe at home without fearing the past will always be her future.
She’s at home now this mother, but there are hundreds more like her, yearning to revel in the joy of watching their children grow up free of the past that brought them to their knees.
We can’t do this work alone. We don’t. There are others working with us, committed to making a difference. Committed to helping children and their families find their way home.
Everyone can help. Everyone can make a difference.
It begins with changing our minds about why people fall, because if we believe it’s their fault they fell, whose fault is it they survived?