When our boys were much smaller, Jan ordered monogrammed duffle bags for each of them. Each child had his own personalized luggage. They would load their bags in the car to go visit Grannie and Granddad for a few days. And of course they valued the individuality that goes with having your own bag. Randall had legos stashed in his duffle bag. Daniel carefully packed capes and swords for the trip. Mitchell was more inclined to include weaponry in his luggage. Those were fun days filled with great memories.
Tonight Glenn Newberry, who serves as Executive Director for Foster’s Home for Children in Stephenville, spoke to us very plainly about our upcoming role in leading The Christian Service Center of Granbury. Glenn is one of the most knowledgeable people in our area, when it comes to reaching to those in desperate need. Foster’s Home is a residential group care foster facility. Everyday they are taking care of children who have been abused and neglected.
In his presentation tonight, Glenn told us that many of the children they serve arrive at the home with nothing more than a few clothes packed a plastic trash bag. There are no legos in those bags. The bags are void of swords or toy guns. There is nothing beyond the bare necessities.
He went on to tell us that employees at Foster’s would typically pack up a child’s belongings once again in a plastic trash bag, when the time came for them to leave their care. At a training seminar recently, the staff came to realize that such a choice on their part was demeaning toward the children, whom they had come to love. Packing a person’s belonging in a trash bag does not communicate value and respect for that individual.
Glenn told us tonight that two little girls, who were abused prior to coming to Foster’s, will be leaving their care soon. The staff has already purchased luggage for them to pack their personal belongings in. As they send them off to open a new chapter in their life, they will affirm their worth and dignity. I hope and pray the best for those two precious children.
Tomorrow I intend to write Part 2 of my thoughts on burnout based on Anne Jackson’s excellent book entitled Mad Church Disease. But tonight I cannot get the image of children arriving at Foster’s Home with their belongings stuffed in a trash bag out of my mind. I am reminded that all human beings are to be treated with dignity and respect. The simple act of packing a child’s personal effects in a suitcase reflects that goal.
And I am grateful tonight that my boys had monogrammed bags, even though I thought it was silly at the time! And I can’t help but wonder what kind of unintentional demeaning behavior I am displaying toward others, as I conclude another day.