Happy November! And today it actually feels like fall here in Waco. It’s a brisk 65 degrees, overcast with a [very, very] slight chance of showers. And I think I saw a tree that was changing colors yesterday. If that wasn’t sign enough, the football fanatics would be. So since we are Falling Back today, I have a whole extra hour in my day- it’s magic! What better way to spend it than writing home?
Ok, that’s a half truth. I went to the Friends of the Library Book Sale and spent the extra hour and some cash on awesome books! 7 months before planning to drive my car back to Oregon. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s ok. What would I do without a cookbook from Texas to add to my future kitchen?
My class load has seemed lighter this semester, but my internship has been weightier. Having students come to the Cove has changed everything! We have had a dozen students come so far and two have been coming since the very beginning. Their stories. Have I told you what I think of students that are caring for their drug addicted parents? Or kids who feel safer on park benches than at ‘home’? Or kids that have to miss opportunities and maybe even skip school to babysit their siblings while their parents work? Or parents who throw their kids out of their houses because their kids are struggling? Or foster parents that abuse the kids they take into their lives and are supposed to provide a safe place for because their parents were not loving them? Or families who don’t have all the resources they need and have to move in with their “cousins” who are also barely getting by and no one can thrive? I tell you. It breaks my heart!
There are two students who come every single day they can. Both are struggling. They come to the Cove because they don’t want to be “home” at the place they are staying where they would either be alone in the house or they would feel like they were in the way of the other people in the house. They are struggling with lots of issues. Yet they are working SO hard. While they are at the Cove, they can make up for missed school time which will allow them to catch up and hopefully graduate on time. It is so awesome to see how badly they want to improve.
My favorite part about the Cove is that every night, a hot, family style meal is donated from the community and shared by everyone there. There is so much laughter and joy around the table that you can’t help but forget that this isn’t a gathering of a bunch of high school friends. And the students have said on numerous occasions that being at the Cove is the best part of their day.
One of my favorite days so far was when we had a guest speaker. He shared his story of being homeless through high school, getting a full scholarship to play ivy league football but dropping out after his freshman year, then coming to Baylor and wanting to play, but having any money, couldn’t stay. He said he didn’t realize he’d have to pay upfront- how would he know that when no one in his life had gone to college before and his first year was taken care of with a scholarship. So he walked back to his home in California- hitched is probably more accurate- and turned his life around in between.
And these kids! To watch the students as he was telling his story, it was as if this rowdy group of teenagers turned into kindergarteners at story time. They were completely sucked in and he was so great! He was down to earth about himself and all he had done.
He decided to come back to Baylor but didn’t realize it’s more complicated than just letting your friend’s grandpa pay when the NCAA is involved. So he got kicked out, but it ends happily ever after- he just got back from playing professional football in Germany. Here’s an article about what’s up with Silas:
All that to say, these kids are kids just like any other kids, except they don’t have adults to love on them. They don’t know what direction they should be going and even when they are trying to make good choices, there can be so many roadblocks and tripping points for a 16 year old kid who is riding a roller coaster of hormones and life change stuff without the Welcome mat being ripped out from under their feet.
All that to say the light on the horizon was a little bit brighter for them after he left.
All that to say, I want to come back to Oregon and work with homeless youth. Not just because these kids are inspiring and heartbreakingly resilient. Not just because the homelessness in Oregon is a huge problem. Not just because my boss is eradicating poverty in Waco and the most impressive woman! The thought of kiddos wandering around looking for safe park benches. Oregon is the only place in the world I can imagine living and if there are kids that need a home, hey, I’ve got enough cookbooks to make a house feel like home!