Within our society, homelessness can be almost solely attributed to a lack of resources (affordable housing etc.) within a given community, as well as the social and political oppressions such as racism, classism, and ableism.
Many forget that homelessness affects not only single, middle aged men (the widely accepted stereotype), but also women, children, and entire families. In fact, the 2005 National Coalition for the Homeless reported that nearly 41% of the homeless population in America is comprised of homeless families (98,452 families), including approximately 924,000 children who are deprived of basic needs such as food, education, and warm clothing.
One of the primary ways to prevent a homeless child from becoming a homeless adult is through education. The Rescue Mission stresses the importance both literacy and education play in achieving economic and social success through programs such as our March 1st Literacy Event. Further, within the Rescue Mission Youth Program, daily mentoring and tutoring interactions comprise some of the most important aspects of our youth After School Program. These sessions include one-on-one as well as group tutoring, which allow our kids to get the help any child needs to excel in school.
Of course, the more volunteers we have at the Mission, the more kids can receive much needed one-on-one attention. Our volunteers are invaluable to our children here at the Mission, not only serving as educators, but also as positive role models and friends. Any time you can dedicate to our children through mentorship or tutoring contributes to their confidence and happiness, as well as to their short-term and long-term academic success. THANK YOU to those who continue to dedicate their time and effort to our After School Program.
If you would like to spend time volunteering in the program, please click on our “Get Involved” tab above, or contact our Youth Program Director, James Leet, at email@example.com.
At the Adams Street Family Campus Christmas party our parents were nurturing their children, taking Santa photos together, decorating cookies, and helping each other’s kids along as they danced around the cakewalk—just as any mommy or daddy does. The room glistened—not only with bright holidays lights, but with the sparkle in every parents’ eyes as they watched their little ones cuddle up to Santa to see what he had waiting for them in his big red sack.
Homeless parents love their children just as any parent does. It’s important to end the misconception that homeless children need to be saved from their parents for putting them in such dire circumstances. It’s not a question of whether most homeless parents love and want to care for their children, it’s a matter of the resources they have available to them.
When I was decorating the facility earlier that day, one of our dads approached me to say hello. He turned out to be a former colleague of one of my close relatives. He is reputed for being a hard worker, honest, compassionate, and he thinks the world of his children. He said, “you know, I was so ashamed to come here. I was so embarrassed that after caring for my family on my own for so long, I finally had to ask for help.” I reassured him that sometimes asking for help through resources like the Rescue Mission is the right thing to do to provide better stability for his family in the long run.
Like this individual, many of our homeless parents come to us, because they are out of options. With the help of our donors, many of them are on the right track to building their futures so they can better provide for their children. I want to close this blog by thanking our donors for supporting us, and our parents for putting their children’s needs as priority above their own. By swallowing their pride and asking for help they truly are giving their children a better chance at a stable future. God bless you all, I wish great success and happiness for every one of you! You SHOULD be proud that you made the right choice to better your families.
Promoting the health and wellness of disadvantaged children seems like an easy sell, but it’s much more complicated to others in the community that may not understand the essentials that come along with such an awesome responsibility.
Comprised in today’s education system is a priority to educate children and to promote critical thinking so that they have the vital components necessary to become independent adults. Each public education entity includes a sports program, an art class, and sex education. When children attend yearly field trips, they visit science centers, zoos, and wildlife reserves to expand their knowledge in different fields of science. While all these tools are vital resources to promote cognitive development and a greater appreciation for how the world works, little is being done to encourage the importance of philanthropy in the community.
Rarely do you see a push for children to reach out and learn more in areas where their community needs them most. By implementing a greater awareness of community activism while they’re young, children will grow up to be more educated and compassionate about the circumstances behind non-profit leadership. Instead of seeing homelessness as a disease, they will be hardwired with the compassion to promote positive changes, and to break the stereotypes that stigmatize poverty.
One can argue that activism is not a vital necessity of the public education system and that it’s parents’ responsibility to teach children how to become involved in the community. While this is a good point, a person can also rhetorically question with equal support why stressing the importance of sex education in schools is so important, but not philanthropy?
Children are impressionable while they’re young and are in a great position to change the future of leadership in America. By teaching them to care, they will likely have deeper core values toward all socioeconomic backgrounds in their community, and will have a better appreciation for preserving vital non-profit programs like the Rescue Mission.
Children are precious gifts from God. They enrich our lives with love of the purest kind. While many of us become consumed by the complexities of “adult responsibility,” children remind us of the importance the innocence, playfulness, and imagination we displace from our own childhoods, contributes to our personal growth. Children’s imaginations span far beyond what most adults are capable of. Most of us lose the ability to construct the unique and creative scenarios children can, like inventing games, pretending to be superheroes, or saving mythical princesses from burning buildings with magical flying powers.
There are many reasons to be thankful for children. They are impressionable, passionate about what they do, and are not jaded by the world with anxiety or selfish expectations. When adults perish from old age, our children are here to carry on our family legacies and traditions. They succeed us genetically, through government relations, and through education. Our goal is that our children exceed our own expectations and go on to live healthy productive lives.
How we influence children sets the tone for how they evolve into adulthood. To a child, the sky is the limit. To a homeless child though, they feel limited by the circumstances that confine them. It’s important to instill a sense of positive self-esteem in our homeless children, so that they do not lose the imagination, innocence, or playfulness that is vital for their growth process when they become adults. It’s important to give thanks for the little gifts that God gives us, and to provide them the safety, security, and love that any child deserves to grow up with in a supportive environment.
While you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving feasts this Holiday season, please keep the homeless and hungry children of Pierce County in your thoughts. After all, how can we forget about something we have so many reasons to be thankful for? Please join us in spreading the word through help, hope, and healing . . . .
Everyone knows how important nutrition is for improving overall health and physical wellness. But many people may not consider how much diet affects a person’s cognitive function. After reading an interesting article about child nutrition and performance in school in the National Agricultural Library, it dawned on me that if diet has a significant impact on intellectual development, then it most certainly affects child behavior.
Do you ever notice that when a child comes off a sugar-high he or she might become moody, cantankerous, or difficult to deal with? Several controlled studies prove that by giving children a healthy diet rich in organic sugars and nutrients like fruits and vegetables, they are not only improving their intellectual development, but also tend to be more balanced emotionally. A healthy child is more proactive about accomplishing personal obstacles and educational goals without being overwhelmed by aggressive energy or the crash-and-burn effect that sugar and caffeine are indicative for.
If parents improve their own diets, then their children will more than likely emulate the behavior, which leads to a healthier and happier family atmosphere and better success in school. Candy and sugary snacks are a fun occasional break from the usual healthy diet we all should be eating, but it’s not necessarily good in large quantities. Next time you find yourself or your children reaching for that candy bar a little too often, keep in mind that it is doing a lot more than just satisfying a sweet tooth. By considering healthier alternatives and taking good supplements, you are likely to notice a big improvement in the way you and your children feel and how you think.
Children’s levels of confidence set the tone for how they approach educational goals. While it’s easy to overlook small details like rewarding a child for doing well on a homework assignment or learning to tie a shoe, these seemingly insignificant intricacies lay the ground work that teaches them to be motivational thinkers and to initiate any task with a positive mind set. By teaching our young to be optimistic learners, they are less likely to focus on the negative side of a situation and will explore new and innovative ways to overcome obstacles. The Rescue Mission Youth Program encourages our parents and volunteers to emphasize activities that redirect children’s energy in positive ways that help build the self-confidence that is pivotal for success in life. As part of our program we offer intellectually stimulating activities like our Young Chefs Cooking Program, hands on tutoring, and outdoor kinesthetic learning. Our activities are equally engaging for the children as they are to volunteers. Children with good self-esteem and positive role models have pride in themselves and their environment, and are more likely to be optimistic about taking on new challenges as they continue to grow. Engaging in fun educational activities like board games, reading, and art are a great way for children to learn, build healthy relationships, and promote self-confidence.
Day to day life in the city takes its toll on the us more than we realize. The noise from cars, the crowding of buildings, and chemicals in the air constantly bombard our senses. I, for one, find this over-stimulation to exacerbate feelings of stress.
Yet, seldom are we aware of how stressed we are. Just as we are often unaware of the tightness in our backs until we finally receive that well-deserved massage, we are also unaware of the stress we carry; at least until its weight becomes so great that we collapse in a heap of discontent and fatigue, or explode in a fit of anger and frustration.
Learning to reduce the stress that builds up in our lives is something many of us struggle with on a daily basis, and our children are no exception. Stress can lead to many health and learning issues; even ADHD has been linked to stress. Providing children with the opportunity to discover their own healthy outlets for stress may be the most important thing we do for them.
Sometimes reducing stress is as easy as going for a walk outside. Numerous studies have shown that immersing oneself in nature is an excellent way to reduce stress. The outdoors is an often untapped resource in stress reduction. Coupling the outdoors with physical activity, such as going on a hike, is doubly effective in reducing stress.
Many of our after-school field trips will be centered around outdoor activities, not only to allow the children to take a break from city life and its stressors, but also to allow children to explore, create, and learn in an environment that provides immediate and real consequences. A child's natural propensity to learn about and explore the world around them can be observed in seemingly mundane activities, such as shaping the mud beneath their feet, learning to climb a tree, or discovering the smell of a particularly colorful flower.
Let's let our children take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and provide them with the opportunity to just be kids: to learn, explore, create, and have fun. Let's go outside!
School is back in action, and so is the after school program at the Rescue Mission! After a fun-filled summer, it’s time to give an update on what’s been happening with the program and to welcome to our new youth staff. Starting in September, two new AmeriCorps interns have joined our team. Currently they are working at separate facilities (Tyler St. Family Campus and the Family Shelter Campus), but soon they will both be running after school programs at the new Adams St. Family Campus.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology, Raymond, a first year AmeriCorps member at the Northwest Leadership Foundation, has taken up a position at the Rescue Mission as the after school program coordinator at the Family Shelter Campus. He is committed to providing a nurturing, fun, and educational environment for the children and teens from homeless families. Ray likes to spend his free time playing board games, going rock climbing, and enjoying the great outdoors!
Hannah is also a first year AmeriCorps member with the Northwest Leadership Foundation, and is the after school program coordinator at the Tyler St. Family Campus. Born in Oregon, she recently graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s degree in comparative sociology. She is very excited to be working with kids and families transitioning out of homelessness, and to create an accepting, safe, and exciting after school program that will help the kids grow academically and socially. Hannah loves to take dance classes, laugh, and explore Tacoma and everything it has to offer.
Both Hannah and Ray will soon be working at the new, beautiful Adam’s St. Family Campus. With a whole building dedicated to the youth, Hannah will be focusing on kids grades K-5, and Ray will be working mostly with teens. All of the youth staff are very excited for the many opportunities for learning, fun, and making memories that this new facility will make possible!