Generally it seems a reasonable rule of thumb to not have reason to cry before 9am, but this morning there was no helping the tears at the Horizons for Homeless Children Annual Women’s Breakfast in Boston. At this remarkable event, 1,000 women gathered to learn about homelessness in Massachusetts. We heard compelling, moving stories from women who – with children in tow – battled back from homelessness to become thriving members of their communities, and learned about the impact of giving back from a woman who volunteers as a Playspace Activity Leader.
Horizons’ approach to battling the numbers surrounding homeless children (10,000 children in Massachusetts per year; 500,000 nationally) is impressive in its’ multi-dimensional structure. Not only does Horizons’ give children a safe and happy space in which they can learn, play, and develop (through community children’s centers in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Roxbury that offer full-time care so parents can work, and through building of playspaces in local shelters across Massachusetts), but they also provide much-needed support to parents, whether it be informational – by helping parents learn how to be involved in the growth and development of their children, as well as how to access education and job training resources – or emotional, through listening ears and open hearts free of judgment.
It’s difficult for me to resist facts and figures; I felt encouraged by the idea that modest gifts of $50 or $100 could go so far ($50 = art supplies for a classroom for one month; $100 = 17 lbs of Legos, 37 lbs of Play-Doh, or 30 lbs of puzzles for shelter playspace programs). In addition to donations, there are many other ways to help, such as donating goods or services, becoming a Playspace Activity Leader (2 hour per week commitment), or event hosting.