The reason I wanted to have a blog for It Takes a Village, Baby is two-fold; on the one hand, I want our donors to have sense of who we are and what our motivation to do this is, on the other hand, I need a place to let go of the hard emotions that are involved in all of this.
It's fun to sort through all of the adorable baby clothes you all donate to our cause. We ooh and ahh at the cute little hats and the squeeky toys and tiny socks. When someone splurges and buys us a box of diapers and wipes, we feel a sense of happiness - secure in the knowledge that we are truly surrounded by a community that cares. Seeing my car packed with donations always brings a smile to my face.
Every time I gather items together and load up my car to bring them to a specific mom, I feel my heart soaring. I am upbeat, energized … I could take on any challenge … see a problem - fix it, see a hole - plug it. And some days, after I’ve met the mom and given her the items she asked for I leave with that same upbeat energy. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’ve made a difference. I’ve let someone know that they are loved. I get the privilege of being the face of the Village.
But let me tell you, some days are so much harder than others. Some days are heartbreakers, soul suckers. Some days being the face of the Village means putting on a brave face until you make it to your car where you promptly begin sobbing. Some days are breakdown days. Today is a breakdown day.
I made our first delivery to a young family (husband, wife and infant son) at a local homeless shelter today. We gave them everything on their wish list – clothing, socks, a diaper bag, wipes, diapers, bathing items (and even threw in a Baby Bjorn, some baby food and a Sophie the Giraffe for good measure). Honestly, meeting the mom and her baby wasn’t the hard part, she looked well fed, the baby was cute and healthy, they are certainly on hard times and I wish I could do more for them but at least they are warm and safe.
Walking out the door from the shelter, recovering from a mild verbal attack I received from one of the workers there (who decided I needed to be lectured about laws and why they couldn’t help me track down the mom who was expecting me), limping from the pinched nerve I keep aggravating every time I have to shift the contents of our storage unit in order to reach the one thing I’m looking for, I looked out and saw tents, semi-covered in snow. Around the corner I saw the Youth Shelter. The street signs read Meadowview Court and Courage Court.
Here’s the truth about the intersection of Meadowview Court and Courage Court: the meadow is filled with homeless people living in tents that are semi-covered in snow. The courage they have to face every day and find hope that things will improve is beyond my ability to comprehend. The county apparently has so many clothing donations that they don’t have room to store them all – but how can that be when there are so many children not properly clothed in this county? Where is the disconnect? Why are the clothes sitting taking up space? What is the next step to get them out into the community?
I know absolutely nothing about the local government processes in place to assist people, I'm sure they are doing their best. What I do know is that I left Meadowview Court today feeling as though the government had made it as hard as possible for me to get clothing to a baby who needed it. I felt as though all the people who have to go to sleep every night in a tent outside a homeless shelter probably wish more was being done. I felt like a failure, and it broke my heart.
But I have four more moms to connect with between this afternoon and Saturday – four more chances for that warm feeling that comes from helping someone. Four more chances to hope the warm feeling lasts.