At Children’s Hope Residential Services’ all-girl Washington campus in Levelland, volunteerism is the name of the game. Twice a month, five different girls from the campus are given the opportunity to work with several churches through the Family Promise program. Through the program, the girls have an opportunity to prepare a meal for a homeless family and visit with that family for a few hours.
In order to maximize the benefits each girl gets from working with Family Promise, there is a briefing before each visit with a family and a debriefing after. The girls learn a little about the families, their struggles, hardships, difficult topics that should not be discussed with the families and any questions or feelings the girls wish to discuss after the event. This allows each girl to process or unpack their thoughts on what they have learned or things they didn’t understand from their encounter with the family. It also allows them to discuss concerns they have about the family and provide ideas they may have about future volunteer activities.
While there are obvious benefits to the homeless family, the opportunity for Children’s Hope Residential Services’ girls is more complex. They have an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on what other lives are like. They learn that, while they may not always be happy with their own circumstances, there are others out there that are less fortunate then they are. They also learn that they can be powerful agents of change. They can go out into the world and make a difference in someone else’s life; they can change the world for the better.
For a child in a residential treatment center, such as Children’s Hope Residential Services, one of the most important and therapeutic skills they can gain is a sense of active agent. This is a sense that they have control over their environment, over themselves and over life in general. The belief that one’s actions make a difference can go a long way in building positive relationships, higher education aspirations and future success as an adult. At Children’s Hope, it is a goal that each child develops a strong sense of their ability to positively affect the world, along with an internal set of motivations and an internally derived sense of self. The girls at Children’s Hope’s Washington Campus are learning that they don’t have to be victims. Instead, they can be agents of change. They can be empowered through selflessness.