The presents are unwrapped, the turkey is carved, the carols are sung, and the Christmas season is starting to wind down. We hope you had a warm and welcoming time with your family this past week and look forward to celebrating the new year ahead.
We recently heard from one of the young residents at our SafePlace2B shelters, who took the time to reflect on what spending the holidays in a shelter is like. This particular resident reminded us why we work so hard to create a positive experience for the kids who need it the most and to get them the care they need.
I Never Imagined Being in a Shelter Over the Holidays…
At Family Resources, families come in all shapes and sizes. We work with kids, parents, and extended relatives to help them overcome their problems through counseling and specialist intervention. However, that is not always possible. When families break apart and kids have nowhere to go, we welcome them in our SafePlace2B youth homeless shelters. This year, the staff at Family Resources, along with the other residents of the shelter, were the family for this particular letter writer.
“I never imagined being in a shelter over the holidays but my time here during Christmas has been [much better] than being at home.”
Our shelters provide safety for residents who would otherwise be on the streets or in an abusive home situation. However, we strive to offer more than just a warm meal and a roof over their heads — especially during the holiday season.
“We go places, do things and many of the staff do extra things for us kids. We get gifts and have a Christmas party right before Christmas, [it’s very] fun and it’s better to me than home.”
Every year, the shelters are decorated for the holidays, with decor in each room and a Christmas tree for residents to enjoy. There are holiday outings and activities, creating a festive experience that many of the teens who seek us out otherwise wouldn’t have.
Every Kid Is Here for a Reason…
Our shelter staff members work closely with kids and teens during this time because they know that the holidays are a hard time for many. To lighten up the season, we strive to create new memories. For some residents, this is one of the first happy Christmases they have had. For others, they use the parties, gifts, and outings as a distraction from the pain of being away from their families.
“Every kid is here for a reason, and for some kids being away from home and not being with family is upsetting.”
One of our staff members created individualized journals for each of the residents so they can detail their reflections and memories throughout the upcoming year. Other staff members bring in donuts, make residents laugh, and come up with activities to keep the residents engaged.
Many of our residents would have no place to go if they were to leave our shelters. However, this doesn’t mean holidays in the shelter need to be bleak. If we can give our residents a warm and comforting Christmas, then we are doing our jobs well.
Learn What Holidays in a Shelter Are Like
Below is the full letter by one of our residents. Our team saves letters like this one so we can be reminded of the people we helped and others out there who need us. Thank you for supporting Family Resources this year so we could give our residents a comforting Christmas experience and help them look forward to the new year.
Header image via Flickr