As we begin preparing for the holidays, we often find ourselves more observant of our surroundings, such as the festive decorations, the music, and the individuals that are absent from our lives. Many youth in our care are not in the position or place to visit with family members, or spend holidays within their own household. Part of being a residential staff member is seeing the negatives, but also being there to see and help the youth recognize the positives within their lives.
The holidays can become increasingly stressful, and in some cases can be strenuous. However, as the boxes of decorations open and the lights begin to shine the youth slowly fill with laughter, and the joy that currently surrounds them. They find that each and every one of them has something in common with one another as the stories and memories begin to unfold.
As Thanksgiving approached us this year, our cottages engaged the youth in activities, helping incorporate their traditions into the cottages. As we observed the youth; we observed eyes beginning to fill with tears, others sharing their remembrance of past holidays they spent with family members, and acknowledgement of those who have touched their lives. The youth participated as a group decorating cupcakes that resembled turkeys. Other cottages, made sandwiches for the homeless, where the staff and youth passed them out and wished these individuals Happy Holidays. They expressed gratitude, and recognized thankfulness towards their life circumstances, even though the days can be difficult.
The best part about being a residential staff member is being able to laugh, cry, and guide the youth in acknowledging how important each and every one of them are. For Christmas this year, the cottages worked together in decorating Christmas trees, hanging Christmas lights, filling out their Christmas wish lists, and making decorations to hang around the unit. Our goal is create a safe and supportive environment for these youth, and to assist them in acknowledging the many blessings that have taken place in their lives.