I had the privilege this month to serve as “nap buddy” at Vogel Alcove, an education center for homeless children of Dallas. I must admit, I was mildly disappointed to learn that being a nap buddy did not involve a nap for me . . . I love a good nap. But 10 minutes into our tour of the school, I was hopelessly devoted to helping make a difference to these precious children with no homes, if only for a few hours.
Who would have ever guessed that Dallas, Texas has the highest child poverty rate in the country among cities with more than one million people, or that 30-percent of Dallas children grow up in poverty? As a mother, this tore at my heart strings.
My job that day was to give the pre-school teachers a lunch break while the children, (I had 3 year-olds), took their naps. I kept hoping they would wake up, so I could give some hugs, read a story or color a picture with them; unfortunately all but two of them slept right through my visit.
One little girl wet her cot twice in my two hours there. I couldn’t help but think it might be a cry for attention, and indeed, one of the teachers gently helped her to the bathroom, cleaned her up and gave her a dry pair of underpants. Another little boy wiggled his way through naptime, as though his body couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep. My old “mother guilt” kicked right in, and I wondered how much more guilt must the mothers of these sweet children feel at being unable to provide a home for their children.
As I sat listening to the soothing music in the classroom and watching them snooze the afternoon away, I thought of how tired they must be. In the shelters they don’t have their own rooms. They sleep in large rooms with rows of beds for multiple families. There couldn’t be much privacy or solitude.
Rather than sit and blubber, I focused the remainder of my time there to say a prayer and send good thoughts to each child in the room. And I gave thanks for my children, my home and for a job that generously allows me to make a difference in the community. Thanks, Celanese, for this incredible lesson in gratitude.
Consider joining me and giving of your time and resources to Vogel Alcove. To learn more, visit vogelalcove.org.