It is so very sad to think of children growing up in the “care” of adults who put their needs and wants first. It’s almost unimaginable to think of a home environment where mom would send her children out of the home to find their own food, and even their own place to sleep to satisfy her personal needs – for a dose of something she thinks will bring her happiness, either through ingesting something to make her feel better, or to satisfy a craving with a man.
We met a family recently at Arizona Helping Hands (“AHH”) that brought our entire staff to tears. We heard the story of a man and woman who survived a similar upbringing, but wanted to make life different for their children, to break the cycle and show their kids that life can be better, indeed, that children can be better than their parents. Raising three kids, they’ve created a supportive, loving home environment, with emphasis on school and family. Life was never easy, but it was good, and overnight – it became even more complicated.
The call came in from the Department of Child Safety caseworker, “we have custody of your 8, 9, 10 and 11 year old nieces and nephews – what do you want us to do?” Unlike the household of this young couple, these four kids were raised in a lifestyle that repeated the sins of the parents. The children were told to find a place to sleep so that mom could bed down with different men, so that she could score another hit to tide her over. The kids were left to fend for themselves, having witnessed behavior that would send chills down any true parents’ back.
Despite being aware of all they would need to overcome, Aunt & Uncle decided to open their hearts and their home to these four additional children in need. Seven kids, one vehicle, lots of challenging situations, all for the sake of saving these kids, of proving that life can be better. When Aunt & Uncle arrived at AHH with a trailer attached to their pickup truck, they shared their story. They shared how much it meant to have beds for these kids to sleep in. When we asked them if they would say a few words in a video testimonial, Mom started crying, saying that she was way too overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to talk on camera. Crying over something as simple as a SAFE PLACE to SLEEP for four little boys and girls, over knowing that with her love and the support of our community she can – and will – make life better for these innocent children. She tells us the kids are doing well in school and focused on being a family – now with parental guidance and support to help them make good choices.
I love that at Arizona Helping Hands, we provide children a haven, a spot of refuge from the ugliness of life that prevails in some quarters. I love that we can offer a glimmer of hope to heroes such as this Aunt and Uncle, who despite the adversity they have experienced haven’t abandoned the notion that love can overcome, that lessons can be learned, that we can all make life better for those who come after us, that we don’t have to repeat errors of the past.
Thank you to this brave, young couple for choosing to #StandUp and Make a Difference for kids in need. You truly are an inspiration and each one of us at Arizona Helping Hands is better for having met you, shared a few minutes, a few tears and a few hugs.
Arizona Helping Hands provides essential needs to kids in foster care, including 2,003 beds in 2016, clothing, diapers and personalized birthday gifts. Learn more about Who we are, What we do and HOW YOU CAN HELP at www.azhelpinghands.org. Contact Dan Shufelt at firstname.lastname@example.org.