Monday, February 13, 2012

Imagine for a moment...

Imagine for a moment that you are 16 again. 

But instead of holding car keys, or a French Horn, or a tennis racket, or a football, you're holding a baby. YOUR baby. You made the decision to have and raise your baby, and you want to do what's best for her. 

But there are a few complications. You're still in school. But maybe you can drop out and get a job... You don't really have any job skills. And not too many people seem to be hiring... Who would take care of the baby while at work? Hmm, you have no family to help out. Good riddance, you never got along well anyway... You don't know much about babies. Or parenting. You never really had much parenting to learn from in your own family...

Oh, and you have no where to live. You've been sleeping on friends' couches for the last few years. But none of them are much interested in having a crying baby around. 

And you have no money. And you need to buy diapers. And food. 

And you're still only 16. What do you do?

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a home for kids like you? Where they helped you finish school. And gain job skills. And learn how to take care of your baby. And manage money. And make solid plans for your future. And provide counseling and psychological support for all the baggage that got you to where you are in the first place. And help you find a new place to live when you're 21. And generally just help you learn about structure and consequences and making smart choices for your life. 

Wouldn't that just be amazing?

If you live in Massachusetts, that's not just a fairy tale. It's called Ruth House. It's a real place. 
And if you agree to submit to the program, you can learn all the skills and gain all the tools you need to be able to support your little family. On your own. Oh, it's not a quick and easy process. It takes time, and can be a struggle. But the staff knows this, and provides what you need to do it. 

Ruth House is a service of Lutheran Social Services (LSS). You don't have to be Lutheran to get the services. Religion does not determine what help you get. It only serves as the basis for why LSS exists in the first place. Lutherans support the services. Non-Lutherans support the services. Non-Christians support the services. LSS just does great work. Lots of it. It played a huge role in my life 30+ years ago

I saw that work first-hand again this morning. I was at Ruth House. I met an alumna. When she moved there with her daughter, she spoke no English. Years later, she is a poised, articulate woman who helps run multiple non-profit organizations in the area. She hopes to finish her undergraduate degree next year. Yes, I said RUN MULTIPLE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. In perfect English. Ok, mildly accented... She is the epitome of a success story. She's married. She owns a home. And credits Ruth House for helping her get there. 

The place inspires me. Over the next several months, I hope to help you get to know Ruth House, too.

Want to show some real love on Valentine's Day? Give something more permanent than roses. Show the girls some love that doesn't come their way very often. 

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