How often do you think about how blessed you are to have your children?
If you have teenagers like we do, you may sometimes spend much of your day planning on how you are going to handle certain situations, only to find yourself "handling" the situation much differently than you intended. The translation to that? Often it’s arguing, yelling and ending up feeling frustrated.
No matter how mad I get at my teenagers, they’re my children and I love them wholeheartedly. I have no doubt that they know this. They also know that no matter how mad I am at them, I would gladly step in front of a moving bus if it meant saving their lives.
Such is unconditional love. I credit my parents for demonstrating that to me while I was growing up and beyond. When you have grown up with unconditional love, giving it freely just comes naturally.
Not everybody is that lucky. Not every child is born to a home where unconditional love is the rule. So many children are born to families where abuse, abandonment and neglect are the "norm." These children learn early on to fend for themselves. They figure out quite soon that instead of concentrating on playing, they need to do something much more important: Survive.
In those homes, children "survive" as long as they can. Then, hopefully, someone notices the bruises, the increasingly withdrawn nature of the child, or just asks questions that allow the child to open up.
When investigators do find signs of abuse, children are removed from the home and often placed in foster homes. Sometimes, however, foster homes are either not the best fit or are in short supply. What happens to the child if that’s the case?
Jesse’s House is an emergency and long-term shelter that serves girls ages 7-17 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment, neglect or delinquency.
That is the technical definition of what the shelter does. In reality, Jesse’s House is a safe place that provides these children with a therapeutic and nurturing environment where they can begin to heal from their past wounds.
Executive director Sabrina Graves explained that every resident is different and is subsequently treated on an individual basis.
"When we welcome a new resident, we act almost like a triage — we follow a protocol to assess each child’s mental, medical, dental and academic needs," she said.
Sabrina and her team work tirelessly to ensure that the residents at Jesse’s House are well cared for and receive numerous services while in their care.
"Our residents have the same needs and problems other children have," she said. "We want to help them with their individual needs, as well as help them look beyond today — to help them realize their dreams can become a reality."
Child abuse affects all of us. These are the children that will one day, hopefully, be productive members of society. With early intervention, the odds increase that these children can live full lives and not repeat the cycle of abuse.
Most importantly, we should all care about letting the most vulnerable among us know that we want to assist and empower them to achieve their full potential. I look at our four children and I thank God I have them. I am also thankful that they have us.
If you would like more information or want to get more involved, visit www.jesseshouse.org.
If you are a golfer, please consider sponsoring a hole or playing in the upcoming second annual Jesse’s House golf tournament Oct. 10 at Laurel Springs Golf Club.
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.