Needy Children: Schools for Homeless Kids
Homeless children exist across the globe, whether it's street kids in Romania, orphans in India and Haiti, or the more than one million children without homes in America. In our country, you can meet a homeless child by visiting a shelter (every downtown city has them) or in some cities or countries, by volunteering at a homeless school.
This past week, I had the chance to work with homeless moms and dads whose kids go to school at the Vogel Alcove in Dallas. I worked in the holiday store where we were able to give free Christmas gifts to the parents for the kids.
At this school, smiling toddlers run around and laugh, making crafts and painting beautiful cards in the classroom. Only the crafts they make in school are for a cause, sold to help families get back on their feet.
Watching people on the street is always heart wrenching, but at Christmas it seems to be magnified. A young homeless mother shopping for her five year-old is no different than you or I. She loves her kids, and knows exactly what they like or dislike. She passed over the robot for the football and chose the toy truck over the puzzle. She picked out two black knit hats, opting to buy the same thing for both kids, instead of choosing from a variety of different colors. "That way," she said, "they won't fight over it."
A staff member had instructed me to take no more than 15 minutes to let the parent shop. I led her around the store and we filled a giant bag with toys. I waited patiently as the mother tried to decide on several pairs of socks. It was her child, after all, and one of the few things she felt she had control over.
I try to remember that it's the human connection that matters. Getting a homeless person off the street isn't about things. It's about words, inspiration, and letting them know their life has purpose.
The statistics are alarming. In Oklahoma, the average age of a homeless person is nine. Positive Tomorrows is a school for homeless children that also provides help for the parents, in the form of adult life skills classes for the parents.
In Chicago, thousands of homeless kids are enrolled in public schools. They don't have a place to shower, sleep, or eat after school. For many, lunch in the school cafeteria is their only meal of the day.
In Romania, I saw the street kids first hand. The civilians call them gypsies.
The homeless world has their own culture. Restoration requires teamwork and baby steps. When I teach writers workshops through The Homeless Project program in Dallas I ask them to journal about their life and any negative past events, misted of acting out in rage, anger, or other destructive habits. Be pulled forward by your dreams, instead of pulled back by your past. Civilians think that homelessness is about economics, and most want to try to solve financial problems.
I tried to explain this to a girl who insisted to me that homelessness was about the job market. Jobs might be hard to find in some areas, but homelessness is definitely more emotional than financial. There are limiting beliefs, emotional events, tragedies, and personal issues that keep people from succeeding.
And it's the same way for those of us with homes. When we can look forward to our dreams, instead of dwelling on the past, there's freedom.
This year, if you feel led to help, you can reach out by giving your time, love, and inspiration. For more information on volunteering at a homeless school, visit: Positive Tomorrows Oklahoma, Open Air Ministries, or The Vogel Alcove on the web.
How do you help the homeless? What will you do this year to help those in need?
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Tammy Kling is a life coach, advocate for the homeless, and international author of books including The Compass. Tammy is also the founder of Write it Out, an organization that helps the homeless transform by journaling goals, hopes & dreams via writers workshops, free journals and books. Tammy loves being a mom to two awesome boys, and is also an avid trail and mountain runner, and corporate writer.
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