Wednesday, December 25, 2019
OUR VIEW -Some Children Hope for Hope
This morning, children across Volusia and Flagler counties woke up with a sense of happy anticipation. Some endured bathing, dressing, even breakfast. Others dove right into a pile of presents under Christmas trees strung with glittering lights, as their parents looked on.
But not all children.
There were children who woke up with only a dull sense of loss, knowing there was no tree and little chance of presents. There were those whose disappointment was blended with the burden of consoling the adults who stood as their nominal caregivers. There were those who never slept, but huddled under the covers as they listened to fierce arguments in the next room. Some woke up in motel rooms, knowing they were lucky to have even that minimal shelter; others who slept huddled in the back seats of cars.
Some woke up hungry, not knowing when or how their next meal would come. For them, time out of school means losing any reliance on regular meals.
At any given time, hundreds of children in Volusia and Flagler counties meet the definition of homelessness. Thousands more live in households with incomes beyond the poverty line. Those of us who grew up mostly secure and happy may never know how those children feel — surrounded by celebrations of bounty, but bereft of the most basic comforts most of us take for granted.
And it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to comprehend the kind of willpower it takes for those children who decide they want something better and are willing to work for it. Many of us would be surprised at how children seize on the smallest amount of encouragement, the warmth of a smile — however fleeting. The tiniest embers can be fanned into a blaze of hope, given the right circumstances for each child.
Every child deserves hope. In ways great and small, this community should always search for ways to give that hope to them.
Over the past few years, The News-Journal has established a tradition of profiling some of the young people who are determined to rise above difficult circumstances and claim a measure of happiness, security and — above all — achievement. These children have found encouragement and help through Food Brings Hope, a child-focused charity that supports families with children through school-based tutoring and mentoring programs, help with housing and — harkening back to its original mission — food. Forough Hosseini, founder of Food Brings Hope, is also the inspiration for Hope Place, a full-service shelter for families with children and unaccompanied young people operated in conjunction with Halifax Urban Ministries. It joins other agencies such as Family Renew Community in providing safe havens to families seeking to get back on their feet.
Like most nonprofits these agencies can use support from volunteers and donors. There's also an urgent need for people willing to open their homes and serve as foster parents.
Not everyone can fulfill those roles. What we can do, however, is decide as a community that these children deserve hope, and a chance to live happy, successful lives, and to factor that determination into the public debate whenever possible — not just at Christmas, but during elections and other avenues for public discourse.
Giving children a chance at a better life is a gift that can come back to the givers many times over. It should be a year-round priority.