Aya Academy of Excellence

No Place Like Home

My thoughts this evening are like a patchwork quilt- colorful disparate  images stitched together with the common thread of home.  My concept of home was challenged repeatedly today.

  • Midday, I listened to the preeminent authority on family engagement, Karen Mapp of Harvard University, on how to connect school and home to raise student achievement.
  • This was preceded by a heated discourse with a colleague and confident on whether a young teen was possibly being abused at home, and if so, what course of action would we take.
  • Later, I engaged in a discussion with an attorney working for a nonprofit for homeless and runaway youth.  I posed to her a collaboration to craft legislation to enable a self reporting mechanism for children suffering from child abuse in the event a trusted adult was not their life at home or at school.  The acronym, SAFETY: Self Advocacy For Teens and Every Youth, was easier to develop than the scope of the legislation.
  • Early in the evening, I participated in a workshop lead by a youth adult fantasy writer who later discussed her dissertation focused on the construct of home through the lens of Native Americans and the descendants of Africans.  Why do some kids refer to home as the place where they ‘stay’ versus the place where they ‘live?’  Is home temporary?
  • Later as I grappled with declining my participation in an activity for a mentor organization created for children with unstable homes due to a previous obligation for another mentor organization’s activity,
  • I was confronted by a woman who was kicked out of her sister’s home.  She related that she and her four children were stranded and were attempting to reach the home of her mother across town. As she spoke, i kept checking my mirror.  I was dropping off a friend to her home in a neighborhood known for unimaginable crime.  Was this lady being truthful?
  • I pondered that as I remembered the homeless woman who approached me hours earlier as I walked to the library.  The same woman who asked me for spare change one block earlier that morning.  My perception of home is shattered.

Is home where your heart is?  If so, what happens if your body, spirit and heart are all broken within those walls?  How sweet is home when the physical place is displaced at a moment’s notice?  Stats indicate that the foreclosure rates in Georgia are exceedingly high, higher than most other states.  I’d know this without the stats based on the number of individuals and families I know personally being displaced.   The ignominy of losing your home is only trumped by the fear of whether a new home for your family to live in can be secured.

According to an article appearing in the New York Times around the holidays, the number of children impacted by homelessness, children living in cars, day shelters or just ‘staying’ with an extended family member is growing.  I’d know this too without reading the article based on my nineteen year old mentee’s desire to secure an apartment so that she, her boyfriend and two children could stop sharing a room.

My quilt is not a comforter.  Home, a place I once deemed as a family’s sanctuary, can be frightening and fragile.  without warning, it can be picked up in a whirlwind of family and community chaos. So tonight, as I pray for my mentee, the displaced mother of four; countless friends facing foreclosure; and a teen who may be in danger at the hands of his parent, I seek peace at my decision to open up my home to kids for a few hours a day who need a tutor, a mentor and a place of refuge.  Pray with me.


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