"...and get right with the Man." I had to finish the lyric.
Weekends at work are generally fairly slow, quiet, nice. Occasionally people will stop by one of my buildings thinking it is something else, the place they are looking for, but it's not. We can usually help get them to where they are going. It happens a lot. No big deal. We are there to help. But something happened on Saturday that was a first.
A young lady and her little girl were dropped off by a friend at my building thinking it was a police station. It's not a police station, just an office building. The friend who drove them left so this little family was stuck at my building with no way of getting to where they needed to go. Traveling with their friend was not an option. They needed to be at a police station so they could get to a local shelter that helps women and their children escape a difficult family situation, and abuse.
I called the shelter crisis line and spoke to someone; the woman spoke to a couple of people, and was told she needed to get to the closest station or hub, which would be at the mall about 2 miles away. I started trying to find the bus routes for the area. I gave her little girl a couple of highlighters and some paper so she could color while her mom was talking on the phone to the shelter workers. She would color a little, happily show her mom her work, and then put the papers in the trash. I salvaged some of her artwork.
The little girl was adorable, sweet, never without a smile, and the same age as my daughter. Her mom was young, but seemed strong and a little cautious, quiet. She wasn't worried or scared, just not in the right place. The shelter workers weren't able to come and pick them up because they don't work that way. They are very secretive about their locations and for good reason, but they wouldn't come get them at my building.
I called my supervisor who was working at a football game. He wasn't sure what we could do at this point because we didn't have extra personnel that day. I called our victims advocate officer to ask her what we could do. She was thinking the same thing I was thinking, and that would be to call the county or city police department in my jurisdiction to come get the family. They are familiar with this process of taking people to shelters, even the secretive ones. I called central dispatch and told them what I had and they said they would send someone to come get them. Finally, some help.
A short time later a city officer showed up at my building and took the young lady and her little girl so they could get to the shelter for help. Before they left, I gave the woman the paper that I had written the phone numbers of the place I called and who I talked to so she would have the contact information. On the back of the paper I left my name, department name, and work email. She shouldn't ever need to contact me, but just in case. I just felt like I needed to give that to her. I also wrote a bible verse under my contact information. John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." It's a favorite of mine.
She has certainly had her share of trouble, but I hope that she finds peace. I hope that she allows the shelter to give her the help she needs, and uses the resources they can provide for her and her daughter. I hope that she doesn't lose sight of the big picture and end up going back to where she came from. I hope that her life will be better than she could have ever believed, and that her daughter will never know the hardships her mother went through to make sure her future is as bright as the sun.
I also gave her daughter something right when the officer showed up to pick them up. On Thursday my son's school had a parenting workshop that I kind of wanted to attend, but with all of the other things going on that day I wasn't sure I would be able to make it. But I felt like I needed to be there. That I had to go. I wasn't sure why. It was an interesting workshop and I am going to look at the presenters website and information when I get a chance. As part of the workshop we received a free book that the presenter wrote. It has information on different intelligences of children and it's a workbook of activities to do with children. It's an awesome resource.
I sort of thumbed through it at work one day and I kept it with me. When I looked over at my pile of paperwork the book was buried underneath the top papers and when I saw it I knew I had to give it to the little girl. I could get another one, but she may never have the opportunity to have this resource. Maybe that is why I was at that workshop. I hope it will be useful to them.
I will keep the little girl's artwork for the future. I am sure I will hang one up in my studio, one in my work office if I ever get to that point where I am no longer a nomad. It will be a constant reminder that this is one of the reasons I am where I am and do what I do everyday, even though the opportunity rarely presents itself to help others in this manner.
It will be a reminder that my life has been very blessed and my kids don't have much of an idea that other kids don't live in the same circumstances as they do. I've been trying to open them up to those ideas. Not everyone has toys, can go to school, have enough food to eat, nice clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in, a warm place to live, or a mother and father to take care of them. Their worlds outside themselves are starting to open up a little more. When they see this little girl's artwork they will know that not everyone is just like them and we need to reach out and help whenever we can.
I pray that this little family will have a great future, and go on to do great things, and have great lives. I hope that they find a church home again. I hope this mother knows that while this decision was probably very hard to make, she is so strong for taking the next step to move on to a safer, better life. I hope they find the good life, and remain strong, especially in faith.