Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Christmas Gift to Me

I have been on vacation since December 19. It's really been wonderful. Promise House was a whirlwind of activity during November and December, as usual, and us "old folks" were exhausted by the time all the parties were over.
So, as a gift to myself this Christmas, here is what I've done:

I took Promise House, all the runaway and homeless teens, all the problems with grantors, any personnel issues, building leaks, electrical problems, graffitti on the outside of the building, and anything else that has anything to do with my job, and put them all very neatly into a box. I then wrapped the box in shiny paper, put a beautiful bow on it, and put it on the top shelf of my closet....not to be opened until Monday, January 4, 2010.

So, if you see me over the holidays, don't ask me anything about PH or try to start a conversation about what I do for a living. If you do, I will look at you blankly and immediately change the subject--cause I'm REALLY good at compartmentalizing; and until Jan. 4, PH is in the compartment of "non-existent".

By doing this, I will be raring to go in January and will be ready to take on the world again.

Thanks for indulging me. Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Thanks

I have sooooo many people and organizations to thank for their incredible generosity of time and dollars to make this holiday season special for our teens. So here goes:
  • David Ross and his wife and huge dog for totally entertaining our teens on Thanksgiving Day
  • Mike Scott and his wife, Ashley, and their friends for hosting a holiday party tomorrow for our shelter teens
  • The Promise House Professionals for hosting a holiday party last Saturday and bringing gifts for 21 young transitional living women and their children
  • Joyce Mazero and her daughter, Dom, for their contribution of winter coats and hosting a movie and popcorn night for the shelter teens
  • Mountain View College for their upcoming annual holiday dinner and gift exchange with the girls and babies of Wesley Inn
  • Jesuit High School for their food drive for our street outreach program
  • Debi Moses for organizing the board of directors to host a holiday party for our shelter teens
  • Angela Choquette for hosting a holiday party for her friends and donating proceeds from a trunk show to PH
  • Kessler Park United Methodist Church for hosting a holiday party for our Wesley Inn girls
  • Junior League of Dallas for hosting a slumber party for the Wesley Inn girls
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Plano Youth Group for hosting a holiday party for the shelter teens
  • Carver Heights Church for donating blankets and toiletries for the girls at Wesley Inn
  • Women of Sacrifice and Obedience for conducting clothing and food drives for PH
  • First Presbyterian, Forney for blankets
  • The Perfect Light for dressing up Wesley Inn with outdoor lights
  • Greenhill School for collecting bath items and toiletries for Wesley Inn and our street outreach program
  • Anytime Fitness, Oak Cliff for collecting clothing
  • Mattel for donating toys for our babies and toddlers
  • Amica Insurance for collecting items for our STAR wish list clients
  • Dallas Chapter of Charms for hosting a holiday party for Wesley Inn
  • Akita Group for donating clothing and food
  • Dick Patrick Studios for food drive
  • Fiserv for donating blankets for our street outreach program
  • Dots Fashion for donating accessories from their store
  • Delta Sigma Theta - TWU for hosting a holiday party for the shelter teens
  • CC5 for their donation of Target and Walmart gift cards for Wesley Inn mothers
  • Supreme Lending Mortgage for raffling a big screen TV and donating proceeds to PH
  • The Promise House Development team for picking a STAR family to provide Christmas for

Whew! And I'm sure I have not gotten everyone. New donations and contributions are coming in daily. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has opened their heart and their wallets to give ALL of the teens and their family members at Promise House an outstanding 2009 holiday.


Monday, December 7, 2009

There is a Place

I was thinking about one of my favorite pieces, "There Is A Place", from the recent Resounding Harmony concert. Here are some of the lyrics:

There is a place
Where you can always go,
Come with me.
Where it’s alright to let your feelings show,
Come with me.
What a pleasant journey,
Isn’t very far.
We can go together,
Stay right where you are.
And now it’s time to start.
It’s right here in your heart.

There is a place
Where you can be yourself,
Come with me.
And it’s a place
Where you can free yourself,
Come with me.
And you know it’s waiting,
Not so far away.
Need no reservations,
We could go today.
Now it’s time to start.
It’s right here in your heart.

There is a place where every sorrow ends
Come with me.
Where every hope and every truth begins.
What a pleasant journey,
We can go together,
Stay right where you are
Now it’s time to start.
It’s right here in your heart.

When I first read the lyrics, I thought they were too smalzy. But as we rehearsed, and I continued to hear the music and listen to the lyrics, I fell in love with it. And I also realized that Promise House is that Place for many, many teens who have lost all hope, who hide their feelings behind steel walls, who have never been able to tell someone the truth of their lives.
I especially love the part of the song that says, “We can go together. Stay right where you are”. How many times have we told street teens calling us late at night, “Stay right where you are. We are coming to get you.”

What a beacon of light we are to those teens. Promise House is a place they can always go--with no reservations. We are a place where it’s alright to show their feelings. Where they can be themselves and start to free themselves. A place where their truth can begin.

And we are always waiting, not so far away.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yes Sir, Yes Ma'am.

I had the privilege of hanging out with one of our transitional living guys for a while today. He needed a ride home, and I was available to take him. On the way there, he received two phone calls, both pertaining to a job he had applied for . Here is how it went: "Yes sir, this is _________. Yes sir, that is really good news. Yes sir, I will be there Monday morning. Yes sir, thank you, sir." Next call: "Yes, this is ______________. Oh, hello. Yes, I would love some good news. Yes ma'am, that is awesome news. Yes ma'am. Ok, ma'am. Yes ma'am, I'm going to be there Monday morning. Thank you so much ma'am for calling. It was nice to meet you over the phone, ma'am."

So here's a lesson for all you people out there who think teens are incorrigible, rude, thoughtless, self-centered, etc. Here is a young man who has every right to be bitter, angry, belligerent, and rude; but instead, against all odds, is polite, well-mannered, grateful, positive, and a joy to be around. Lesson: stop stereotyping teens.

By the way, he starts at Mountain View Community College in January.

What a gift it is for me to be able to be around such miraculous young people.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Promising Teen At A Time

So here is a happy story. A 17 year old girl who was in the custody of the state came into Promise House about a month ago. She was getting ready to turn 18, which meant that she would be out of care and on her own; and, unfortunately, all of our transitional living slots were full.

Consequently, our shelter staff sprang into action to make sure she would NOT be on her own when she turned 18. Here is what they did before her birthday:
  1. Helped her talk to her aunt to see if she could stay with her temporarily
  2. Helped her take her GED test
  3. Assisted her in completing applications to community colleges
  4. Got her enrolled in Tyler Community College
  5. Got financial aid lined up for her through the college
  6. Helped her apply for the Promise House Blake Davis Memorial Scholarship for higher education
  7. Gave her school supplies, clothes, and hygiene products to take with her
  8. Got her signed up for mainstream services (Medicaid, SSI, etc.)
  9. Threw her a birthday party with a big cake
  10. Gave her a big hug and wished her luck when she left.
  11. Told her to call if and when she needed help.

She starts school in January. This is how we change lives at Promise House. One promising teen at a time.