Friday, February 6, 2009

The Boys

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
(Psalm 127:3-4)

I am a girl. I am not a boy. Even though I've been married for more than 7 years and have two sons of my own, I don't think I will ever fully GET boys. And even when David starts speaking about sons here in the Psalms, he breaks out the manly man terminology. Arrows and warriors?? What? Sounds like we need a Tim the Tool Man Taylor laugh with that. HAR har har.

When I came to work at the youth center from the world of GIRL Scouts, there was a lot to learn. Since I was the only full time female person on staff, I tended to gravitate a little towards the girls because I could fill that girl-to-girl need in their lives. BUT there are some pretty awesome "guys" and "dudes" I got to know, too. Here are some of the boys' stories:

***

Chris is the only boy with lots of sisters. His family lives in Terre Haute most of the time, but sometimes they take extended trips to stay where his dad is from. Many times extended family or friends are living in his house. Without going into too much detail, we'll just say it's not really a safe place to be. Chris likes to spend the night at friends' houses to get away from home. One time the place they were renting burned down and they had to start completely over. Chris is 13.

Chris is an all around likable guy. Everyone is his friend. Chris is a good boxer and basketball player.

***

Ted has lived in Terre Haute all of his life, although he's lived in many places and attended many schools because his family has to move sometimes when they get behind on rent. Ted is one of four siblings. His parents have been married for a long time, but sometimes they fight a lot and it gets violent. Ted often wears his dad's over sized clothing because there's nothing at home that fits. Ted is 11.

Ted is an excellent student and loves to read scary books. Ted loves video games. Ted likes to draw designs that would make good tattoos or decals on cars.

***

Eric has lived in Terre Haute all of his life. Eric is really an adult now, and I am using his real name, unlike the others. That is because Eric is amazing! He is an only child. He has Down's Syndrome. His parents do not have a lot and face many health problems, but they have volunteered at the youth center for a long time. Eric became a part of the youth center Boy Scout troop and he is the ONLY Boy Scout in the youth center history that has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Eric is out of high school now and has a job, but continues to volunteer with the Boy Scout troop and at the youth center. Eric is 19.

Eric is helpful and does whatever is asked of him without complaint. Eric is very concerned about learning all he can, even though reading and writing are very difficult for him.

***

Cole has lived in Terre Haute all of his life. Cole is the baby of the family and yet in some ways an only child. I think he's the only child of his mom and dad, but he lives with extended family including many older cousins. Cole is not into school or reading too much, but he would always want a turn in the library just so he could have some time with an adult by himself. Cole is 6.

Cole is happy go lucky, but can hold his own against his rough-housing cousins. Cole loves all things "boy," such as dirt bikes and Nascar and professional wrestling!

***

Tyson is a sibling to one of the girls I wrote about. Tyson has many siblings in his family who are packed in a small house. Tyson gets in a lot of trouble. Usually it has to do with not controlling his mouth or getting into fights. Tyson gets kicked out of school a lot and he's been banned from the youth center several times as well. Tyson does not respect the authority of adults. Tyson picks on smaller children. Tyson, Tyson, Tyson....Tyson is 13.

Tyson was a good boxer on his well behaved days. Tyson is funny. I saw Tyson in a parade with his school band once, and was very proud to see him involved in something positive.

***

These are just a few of the boys! The youth center has over 1,500 different children come through the doors in one year, and the vast majority of them live in Terre Haute. And there are many more children in need who don't come to the youth center. Just ask the teachers and staff at local schools! In some of the schools in Terre Haute, close to 90% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch rates. The 2005 childhood poverty rate was over 22% for the county (That's 1 in 5 kids). Terre Haute has a population of about 60,000 people. I'm not a math expert, but that's a lot of kids in need...

So what's the deal? Why am I throwing all this out there? We get it, already, Beth! We already know there's people who need help out there. Odds are, you don't live in my area and will never meet these children. Odds are, you also probably have people or a cause that's very close to your heart and that you give to/volunteer with already. Still, I think there are some valuable lessons I have learned and HOPE I have found in the middle of this....so be sure and read my next post...or I will come and beat you with my Snuggie... :)

4 comments:

Helen said...

Beth, in these tough economic times, this is a very important story. Even people who seem to be doing well are having it tougher than they did a couple of years ago. It is easy to say "I am not doing so great myself right now!" and throw away the envelope, or hang up on the telephone solicitor. Your story is a reminder that, hey, lots of us who have it tougher than last year still have it pretty darn good, and that we should really check ourselves before saying no. I hear "you can't give to everyone..." and while I see that point, it is also too easy to use that line to ignore suffering that we could ease.
I think your post was very relevant. Even if we give elsewhere, it is a reminder of what need looks like, and, for me at least, that I don't yet see it in the mirror, which means I ought to be able to do something to ease it, rather than ignore it.
Too bad comments don't have a word count. I bet this is as least as long as the post...

sherri said...

Thanks again for sharing about these boys.

Their stories need to be heard. You are making these "cases" turn into real PEOPLE. Making their needs and stories more real to all of us. WIsh I could come there.

You know, I'm not THAT far way.

I travelled to Mt. Vernon Indiana with a friend. How far is that from you?

Beth said...

Thanks for the comments, gals!

Sherri,
Mt. Vernon is pretty close to Evansville and Evansville is straight south of us about and hour and a half or so.
Yahoo Maps is telling me it takes a mere 3 hours and 3 minutes to get from West Frankfort to Sullivan. I think we really are the ones who live closest to each other. We could meet in Evansville for the day...

katdish said...

Beth,

Believe it or not, I haven't sent your package yet (shocking, I know). But maybe that's a good thing because my friend always gives me her son's hand-me-downs for Cameron. Frankly, her son is a big boy, and it will probably be a couple of years before Cam can wear anything. I have several pairs of jeans and shirts. All in very good shape. Do you want me to send those as well?