Friday, September 13, 2013
Intent on reaching my office and the work that awaits me there, I take the stairs two at a time. I'm so focused I barely manage a nod and tight smile for the boy and young woman coming down the stairs in my direction. He, too, is intent and moves purposely toward me, so that before I even realize I've walked straight into...a hug. He beams a smile at me that, if science could manage it, would light our entire building. My glance lifts to his mother, who is also smiling.
"He hugs everybody," she tells me.
I ask his name, and he tells me his nickname. Work waits while we share a moment's conversation in the stairway, yet even as I talk with him I'm seeing beyond his smiling face and into the bleak future that could lay ahead of him.
If my job were in a business or a retail setting, these thoughts would never occur to me. But I work at a homeless shelter. The stigma and obstacles attached to a child in poverty, let alone a homeless child, are very real. As real as the smile on a face that sees nothing but hope. He is not afraid for his future. Like every other child, he dreams of being a firefighter. Or an astronaut. Or a basketball player.
They go on their way, this child of hope and the mother who so obviously dotes on him. And in spite of the statistics and the studies, I take a little hope with me too. Because where he may go is not as relevant as where he is. He is safe, and he is here. Praise the Lord, he and his mother have found shelter at the Mission. Where the love and compassion of an entire community come together to provide him with food, shelter, and the hope that is ingrained in his personality.
You will probably never meet this little boy, but to those of you who support the Mission through donations, volunteering, and prayer, Thank You. On behalf of this boy and his mother, and the 553 moms and kids we sheltered last year, I want to tell you that you have made a difference. You are making a difference.
Thank you for being a Rescuer by helping us help others.