When we are hit with snowstorms or worse, many of us have friends we can turn to, places to stay for a while. So many families don't have this support, these types of friends. They're all in the same boat. Their children are huddled together.
Last month I recalled the story of Antwone Fisher, who was informed upon aging out of foster care at 18 years old that he was on his own. He was directed to a nearby homeless shelter, and left to figure out the rest himself. That continues to happen every day across the United States.
Just as important as finding your purpose is where it leads you, who it touches, what it changes, and the larger effect it has on the greater good. Sometimes your purpose leads you to a place you could never imagine -- case in point -- pajamas.
When my sister-in-law told me about a volunteer opportunity with CASA advocating on behalf of children in need, I knew that was how I wanted to give back. I feel in a way I honor my grandfather's memory through my work with these children.
As I gave out pajamas every day, I was continually enlightened by the reaction from moms and dads who were donating to Pajama Program and from the women and men who were caring for children receiving our pajamas.
We know that the number of children in need in the U.S. is growing, due to the difficult economic conditions many American families face. All children need and deserve to feel safe and loved at all times, but especially at bedtime.
Children we meet ask us what pajamas are; I still can't believe it. They shouldn't have to sleep in their clothes for days and nights at a time. There are no soothing story books to help distract them from frightening thoughts before sleep.
The last "class" brought tears to our eyes and saying goodbye after just two weeks was difficult, actually downright depressing. We will miss them and the life they brought to our Reading Center every day.
All of us have a calling. Despite financial and administrative challenges, teachers respond to their calling with gusto. Every day their devotion to teach through love transcends the mindless pay cuts, budget slashes and never ending troubles they are up against.
As we ready our new Reading Center in NYC for Opening Day I am haunted by a call I received several years ago. The call came from a man who said he read about our Program and wanted to learn more. He asked a lot of questions and finally revealed, "I lived in an orphanage."
In one of the rooms in our new Reading Center we're showcasing inspirational and motivational quotes in a mural. As I read the quotes I realize the words are as much for me as they are for the teens. Maybe you'll agree -- we'd be moving mountains much faster if we all believed these words...
Sadly, many people have a preconceived idea that kids are abandoned because something is wrong with them. A common response to meeting children in foster care is, "They are so sweet! How could anyone abandon them?'
Our Literacy Program's goal is focused on lifelong learning and upon making a positive impact on the growth of our student readers. To this end we're making plans to fill our space with thousands of children pre-K through teenagers.