Kennedy refused to take a bath or change clothes — not that odd for a 5-year-old. Any parent will recognize that phase when kids are entirely too busy hosting tea parties for teddy bears or chasing fireflies to be bothered with fashion or hygiene.
But Kennedy was afraid, afraid of being further abused by a trusted adult. And so it was up to the staff of our Children’s Emergency Shelter (CES) to help Kennedy begin to trust again.
Your gifts to all of our Columbus Home Children’s Services make possible the important role we play in the lives of children and youth like Kennedy, who are victims of abuse or neglect. We hope you can continue to support us in the care and safekeeping of the hundreds of children we serve each year.
The third morning of Kennedy’s stay with us, Jennifer, a CES care specialist, approached her while she was having breakfast, placing a large shopping bag on the table. Obviously interested, Kennedy continued to eat, wide-eyed, as one by one, fairy princess costumes emerged from the bag. Along with the costumes were pajamas, panties and other clothing, all princess-themed. The strategy was working!
After breakfast, Jennifer told Kennedy she would be able to try on all of her new outfits as soon as she bathed and brushed her teeth; she quickly agreed, but was still too frightened to have anyone present in the bathroom. No problem! While Kennedy bathed and dressed, Jennifer stood outside the door, only assisting if asked. Afterwards, Kennedy spent the next hour trying on costumes and having her picture taken in each one. The pictures were hung on her window along with other fairy princess decorations.
Kennedy’s stay at the shelter was a blessing for her and for the staff. Allowing her to be “Fairy Princess Kennedy,” rather than the broken child reality had created, began the process of taking down walls she had needed to protect herself.
Not all the clients we care for are children, but all are vulnerable, emotionally, financially or intellectually: the homeless and abused seniors served by Samaritan Place; the rural poor who come to us for food or utility assistance; adults struggling with chronic mental illness; homeless parents trying to create a stable home for their children. All these and more need our unique services to heal and to become as self-sufficient as possible. Your support makes that possible.
It is because of caring hearts like yours that we are able to hire and retain staff with equally caring hearts, as well as the initiative and creativity it takes to tackle our clients’ complicated issues. Every day, in every one of our programs, Jennifer and her Catholic Charities colleagues work to ensure a transformative experience for those who need us most. They may not employ magic wands or fairy dust, but the experience and dedication they wield is just as powerful.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our staff, for your prayers and financial gifts that help lift up our clients and give them hope and human dignity, for being a champion of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee!