Family Adventure Camp is rolling right along!After our first, “Getting to Know You” week, we had a “Gardening Week” and are not working on “Science Week”.There have been so many memorable times, and so many pictures, I had a very hard time deciding what to write about.So I flipped through our comment cards (a form each participant in Family Adventure Camp fills out after each activity to tell us what the thought of it) to see what activities over the past couple of weeks got the most positive responses.By far, the favorite activity was when we planted our family gardens last Wednesday, June 13th.
At the break of dawn last Saturday morning, our vivid orange t-shirts dotted the hill on Niles street as we formed a chain gang of volunteers from the Center for the Homeless.“Yellow for water, green for Gatorade,” we shouted at the marathoners, concerned that in their thirst and delirium, the participants might not remember that the colors were the same at every other stop and along the way, and somehow accidentally douse themselves in Gatorade.The runners were remarkably cognizant: they consistently amazed us by looking us in the eye, thanking us for volunteering, and telling us “you guys are the best.”Wait a second, I thought we were supposed to be encouraging and supporting the runners!Even as the temperatures rose, the sun glared more fiercely, and the sweaty shoulders heaving past us began to sag with fatigue, the gratitude and upbeat attitudes kept flowing.It was inspiring.My high school cross-country coach used to remind us that running was 90% mental- a game that required psychological readiness, along with physical training.Each week before race day, we would lay on the gym floor and “mental picture” our race: each hill, each pang of fatigue, and finally, the finish line.At the Center for the Homeless, our guests are encouraged to engage in a kind of mental picturing as well.During part of their programming, they are asked to envision their ideal home, job, and family life, imagining what it would feel like to achieve that future, and then visualize what steps would be crucial to achieving that ideal.It is important to imagine the future in the immediate setting, so that our dreams and goals become blended with the everyday habits of our lives.In many ways, mile 26.2 is merely the reflection of what happened at mile 14, and mile 3, and week 5 of training, and day 1.Due to the cyclical nature of the Sunburst marathon, our water stop was both mile 11, and mile 24.2, so we were able to serve twice all the runners that completed the race.Several times we heard the comment, “Glad you are still here” and “Thanks for sticking around.”The race to break the cycle of homelessness is perhaps at least 90% psychological, and each word of encouragement, each change in perspective, each generous attitude, creates change along the way.To the South Bend community, we would like to say “Thanks for sticking around” for all the guests of the Center, at all miles and stages of their progress towards the finish line.
Just the other day I was to teach a class for our STAR program at the Center. STAR is our Skilled, Trained, Able and Ready program that just saw eight great graduates ready themselves for an intensive job search led by Cari Wolfe. (Who's picture is probably a scroll down away from my little blog) Well, just before their graduation I was asked to teach them about networking. So many things could be said about networking, but what do I really know about this? I ultimately lean on a line by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem Ulysses whereas he states, "I am a part of all that I have met".
I love this line. I think we all should. Tennyson suggests what is essentially the core of our innermost being and that which makes us human - we are all inextricably connected. If that's the case, and I think it is, then we all should care that children, women and men in our community are suffering in so many ways. Lend your ear to a few of these blogs and you may hear your story connected to theirs. What a wonderful web we weave, together.
So, I decided that day not to 'teach' networking in a classroom, but to experience 'networking', these human relations that bind us together, over a meal. (This happens to be one of my favorite things - eating :)
So, on that hot, almost summer day, we went outside and trekked a few hundred yards to the Paramount Restaurant. It was here that I entangled myself in the difficult and complex lives our guests lead. It was here, over a few bacon double cheeseburgers, where real connecting occurred. Stories were shared, tears were shed, healing continued. But now I was a part of all that I have met...
Aloha!Today was the first day of our brand new summer program for families, Family Adventure Camp!And what an adventure it was (thanks mostly to the weather).
Family Adventure Camp is designed to use the summer months when kids are home and moms are being driven crazy by cooped-up kids to our advantage, and give families a chance to build strength, resiliency, and team-work.All too often, the experience of homelessness drives families apart, just at the time in their lives when they need each other the most.During Family Adventure Camp, we aim to teach the families of the Center for the Homeless to see their family as a team.