Submitted by one of our resource partners
Have you ever looked into the eyes of a hurting child to see true heartbreak, fear, hurt, and anger? What started out as a normal day of work one warm day last summer at my part-time job as a daycare worker, turned out to be a life-changing experience for myself. I have always enjoyed working with kids, planning activities, taking them on field trips, and listening to their dreams, and excitement about their planned summer activities; however, when I entered the doors one day last summer, I heard a child sobbing uncontrollably. The new child would not stop crying, and as I reached out to the child I will call “Drew” to protect his identity, “Drew” grabbed my lower leg and would not let go. I quickly got his attention by speaking to him about animals, and colors, and then out of desperation grabbed the bottle of “magic” bubbles, and blew some bubbles with the wand in the air. Watching the bubbles float through the air, 4-year old “Drew” started to smile and the tears quickly dried up, and as quick as that– I had made a new little friend. “Drew” and I had “connected” , and after that whenever I was at work, my new little buddy followed me everywhere, and didn’t want to see me leave.
The other staff at the daycare struggled often to care for “Drew” as he was constantly in tears, exhibited fear of changing classrooms, and feared going outside– which made it difficult to transition him and the other children. During the day, the children typically changed locations from place to place for lunch, playtime, bathrooms, nap time, etc, and every time we changed rooms or went to a different location, the constant tears and fears were exhibited. “Drew” would hit the other children on the playground, and did not want to share any of the toys– ever, he wanted to keep all of them. It was very clear that this child had undergone trauma in his past, as we would later find out the hurt, anger, confusion, were understandably part of the puzzle.
One day I had to work late and close the center, and had an opportunity to meet “Drew’s” mother whom I will call “Mary” to protect her identity as well. I had hoped to meet “Mary” after an unusual incident had happened on the playground that afternoon, you see “Drew’s” only pair of shoes (a cheap 50 cent pair of flip flops) broke. This sent “Drew” into hysterics saying mommy be upset, mommy be upset. This truly broke my heart, and I wanted to meet his mom to see how the daycare staff could help. When “Mary” came in, she broke down crying to find out that Drew’s sandals were broken as she did not have funds to replace them. After talking with “Mary”, she told me about her situation; she had recently escaped from a terrible domestic violence situation, and had left with nothing other than her child. She had been homeless before she had finally found a recent job as a waitress, which was difficult due to her limited education, and not having her GED. Mary was excited to receive her first paycheck soon, but she was worried because she was also six months pregnant and didn’t know how she would manage once the new baby was born. In the meantime, she didn’t know how to get help, where to turn, how to get food for the weekend, or where to find “Drew” a new pair of shoes. So, I grabbed some Hope4Healing cards on the daycare table in the hallway, and told “Mary” that she might want to give Hope4Healing a call to see if they could help.
Hope4Healing helped “Drew” and “Mary” with their difficult situation, and the transformation that happened was amazing as Hope4Healing was able to find Drew clothing, shoes, toys, and books, located affordable housing for the family, helped her get groceries, find baby clothes for the new baby on the way, and helped them find a local church to attend. The local church that Mary went to also had a single moms program, and so not only were their physical needs met, but the support she received through the single moms group gave her the encouragement she needed. Slowly, Mary began to see a way out and a path forward, and although not perfect, their situation improved. Drew and Mary also obtained counseling and saw improved behavior in Drew.
Hope4Healing truly lived up to their name, and I saw first-hand how “Drew and Mary’s” lives were changed”. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on their behalf, and also your understanding of the need to still protect their identity in light of all they have been through. This story is the story of many single mom’s and children that Hope4Healing has helped; I know this first hand, because this experience was a turning point for me also. You see, it was after this experience, that I realized that I wanted to do more, and I began to volunteer to take phone calls on a regular basis for Hope4Healing. Every week on the phone, I speak to many people who are hurting, but especially single moms with young children who are out of options; they are broken–mentally, physically, and emotionally and don’t know where to turn.
As I mentioned earlier, this situation truly broke my heart, and I am glad that Hope4Healing was able to be there, but I can’t help but think about all of the other “Mary and Drew’s” out there that still need help. You may think (like I had) that you are too busy to help make a difference, but I would encourage you to consider donating your time or finances if you are able to help out organizations like Hope4Healing that work with youth and families in need. Looking back, last summer was a turning point in my own life, and through meeting “Drew and Mary”, my own perspective changed, as I caught a glimpse of life through the eyes of this hurting child.