And How are the Children..?

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Challenges of Service…

Posted on: February 12, 2011

What a week.  We recovered from the blizzard, and jumped back in.  Report cards came in, and I looked at the list of grades.  I think I had what could potentially be described as a Geoffrey Canada moment; I thought to myself, ‘It isn’t enough.  How can it be?  3 hours in the afternoon, with just a few adults (however caring and creative and resourceful), in the face of all that schools and parents do not, for whatever reason, provide… How can we help more than a few of these kids?  How do we, as busy people, connect with parents who are busy people who barely have time for teachers, who are busy people (whom we should also be connecting with)?  How do we close these cracks that these bright faces are already slipping through?’

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We do help.  We change lives.  We provide opportunities that these young people might not otherwise get (like yesterday’s field trip to meet the legends of Negro League Baseball at Chicago Children’s Museum), and we provide stability, high expectations, relationships and resources for families.  We’ve helped parents and grandparents find resources to help their children with identified special needs.  Tutoring and technology education and art classes and youth councils – I have no doubt in my heart that we impact lives every day.  But how long will that impact last?  How wide is the ripple?

Serving youth and families is challenging in this way.  You do it for years, and because it is relationship-based, the outcomes are more qualitative than quantitative.  Which means you never see the full impact of what you work so hard at doing.  When you affect someone’s heart or mind, it doesn’t always show on their skin (especially if they are artfully disaffected adolescents).

Anyone who has been to this blog before today knows that Youth Development is a new field for me – I come from the world of Early Childhood.  I am challenged by the time that has already passed.  I wonder if we can pull them back from the brink so late in the game.  But I do not despair, or lose faith.  I just really need to name my fears if I’m going to get past them.  Then I remind myself:

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Children are enormously resilient and resourceful – even past the ripe old age of 8 years.

We have no choice but to invest in these young people, and the most challenging circumstances often offer the most creative and elegant solutions.  I will be an open vessel for these solutions.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.



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