Thursday, October 22, 2009

Too Soon Grown

I just watched a young woman walk from our building to the parking lot. She had a baby carrier that looked bigger than she is, a huge diaper bag slung over her shoulder and a second child, who appeared to be about two years old, walking with her. I could tell she was struggling to carry the baby and keep hold of the 2-year old.

I don't know if she is a resident with our transitional living program or if she is someone who came seeking help. What I do know is that she is definitely under 20 years of age, with a baby and a 2-year old in tow. I just can't even imagine. I see it every day, and yet I never get used to seeing young girls with babies and toddlers.....their adolescent years replaced by all too adult responsibility and burden.

When I ask the girls how being a teenage mother has changed their lives, they respond that they have had to grow up fast, that having a baby has made them more responsible, more caring. But when I ask them if they have regrets, each one cites getting pregnant as their biggest regret. They are quick to add that they wouldn't give up their child for anything, but that getting pregnant irrevocably changed everything--for a very long time.

I won't quote all the negative stats about teen pregnancy--most of the girls who come to Promise House defy them anyway and do very well. But that is with ALOT of help, support, education, mentoring, child care, and anything else they need to become good mothers. Without this help, young mothers have huge challenges ahead of them.

Hopefully, the young mother I saw just now will defy the odds and the stats. Hopefully, she will get the help she needs from us and become an incredible mother to her children. And hopefully, she won't give up the dreams she had before she got pregnant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wet Wednesday

Wet Wednesday. Man, I'm sick of this rain, even if we do need it.

You know, every time it rains or gets really cold or really hot or snows or ices, I can't help but think of the kids and teens that are on the street. It's not too bad right now, cause it's not cold. But in a month or two a Wet Wednesday is also going to be a very cold Wet Wednesday. And these young people are going to have to contend with the cold and the wet and finding some place to sleep for the night.

I went out with our Street Outreach team in January one year. Unbelievably cold and windy. I was totally miserable and could only imagine the misery of kids who were dealing with the weather every day and night. They sleep in cars, on church steps, with people they don't know, in places not fit for human habitation. The stories would curl your hair.

Some people love rain, cold weather, snow, ice. I was preconditioned against any wet or really cold weather, since my father couldn't work during bad weather. Add to that, me knowing that there are kids out there in it that need help and aren't getting it, and the cards are totally stacked against rain, etc.

So, on this Wet Wednesday, say a prayer for all those wet kids trying to make their way on the street. It is a brutal existence.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Good Day

One of Promise House's former residents friended me on Facebook this week. How cool is that? Seems that he successfully graduated from high school and is now in college! I was sort of holding my breath when I asked him how he is doing, cause sometimes it's a crapshoot with young people--but when he replied, "Great!", I breathed a silent sigh of relief and felt such maternal pride it was as if I had been the one who was responsible for his success! Well, we all know that's not the case, but that is how excited I get when I hear from our kids who have left, especially if they are doing so well.

Moments such as these keep me plugging away for quite some time. We root and pull so hard for all our kids and many times never get to know how the story turns out. So to hear a story that is turning out well is that much more special.

All in all, I'd say a good day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I've been at home this week doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. I've been reading, napping, eating, reading, napping, watching movies, etc. I've also had alot of time to just sit and think, which is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

So what am I thinking about? I'm thinking about the health care debacle and wishing congresspersons had to go without insurance for a while to experience what many of the families at Promise House experience every day. I'm thinking about the "troops" abroad in Iraq and Afganistan and how easy it is to depersonalize young men and women whose parents and loved ones are waiting with bated breath every day for them to get home safely. I'm also thinking that these young men and women are the same age as many of the older teens at Promise House--19, 21, 22, 23, 24--SO YOUNG.

I'm thinking that I am grateful to have a job, and if any of the higher ups in the financial world who say the recession is ending could talk to just the people I know who are unemployed, they might think something different. If they came to PH any day and listened in on the receptionist fielding requests for food, rent assistance, jobs, clothes, housing, they might change their tune.

I'm thinking about some of the kids who have come through Promise House--their challenges, their trauma, their victories, their triumphs. No matter how much I may gripe about my job, I can never get enough of seeing our kids in action. And I'm thinking about all of my staff who make my life easier and who make the lives of our teens easier.

Sitting and thinking helps me get things in order, put things in perspective, process current experiences, create new ideas. It helps me appreciate all the good things both in my lpersonal ife and in the life of PH and gives me time to better see the challenges in both arenas that I need to address. It helps me realize that the challenges I face are really miniscule in the face of the challenges every one of our teens face when they come to PH.

So today, I'm sitting here thinking. But next week I'll be moving fast. Let's hope the good thinking sticks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two for Three

Promise House was recently notified by the Department of Health and Human Services that we are funded for another three years for our Basic Center (for the Shelter) and Street Outreach grants. Our transitional living grant that we have through DHHS is a five year grant and is not up for competition for several years. We are currently in the middle of getting our HUD (US Dept. of Housing and Development) renewal grant finished, and then we get a break for a while.

As crazy as the government makes me sometimes, Promise House could not function without its funding. Government grants are bigger dollar amounts and last longer than foundation, corporate, or individual contributions; and at the federal level anyway, they are fairly easy to manage. These grants will always be part of our diversified funding streams (unless the government nixes them), along with foundations, corporations, faith-based groups, and individuals.

So thanks, DHHS, for the vote of confidence and the funds. With your help, we will keep on truckin'.