Not If, When…
3 words. I hate them. Not if, when. Those are the words I spoke to a young boy last night who once again was not where he was supposed to be. If Empower Youth can’t get involved in this life and his parent’s life in a meaningful way then it’s not a matter of if he will spend time in “juvy” for pocketing something that doesn’t belong to him… it’s when. It won’t be a matter of if Children’s Protective Services will visit because they caught him after curfew… it’s when.
3 words. I hate them. Not if, when. Those are the words running through my mind as I look at a little girl who was dropped off at friend’s house with a head full of lice and a bottle of alcohol by her drugged up parents. This is the second time she has been dropped off like this. She tells me that she wasn’t allowed to tell her teachers at school that they had no electricity and no water. It’s not a matter of if but when will she be used by her parents to lie about other things. It’s not a matter of if but when she will be used to help her parents gain access to drugs unless Empower Youth and others who care step up.
3 words. I hate them. Not if, when. As I drove through the town of Bethel, I watch a very tall beautiful 6th grade girl acting overly mature with a group of 7th and 8th grade boys. She’s surrounded by them and she’s talking all cute and flirty. Having experienced a life “Daddy’s” in and out of her home, she hungers for attention. It’s not a matter of if…it’s when.
3 words. I hate them. Not if, when. The children were already taken away from their mother twice. In fact, the last time ended in a police escort. I saw them walking with their mother a couple of days ago. The little boy said Dad had to go out of town but Mom was better now so they could stay with her. On Mother’s Day, the children had been removed because of drugs. Less than a month later, the children are back with her. My heart aches…hurts really. It’s not a matter of if…it’s when.
3 words. I hate them. But we could change it. We could start in Bethel and then extend to other communities and begin to pour in to each of these children and help them find a voice. We could Empower Youth by casting away the lies they have been told about the police. We could Empower Youth by teaching them that the teachers, police, and preachers that their parents are telling them to keep secrets from are actually there to help them become better. We could start by getting to know parents. And letting parents know that we are an advocate for them and their children. We could build a bridge with a simple meal and then become a partner with a family. We could build a bridge by offering homework support and then help propel a student in to a world beyond a drug addiction or an early pregnancy and into a career that will sustain them and give them a life worth living. It’s not a matter of if, but when the work we do will bear fruit and lives will be changed. So maybe… I don’t hate those words now. It’s not a matter of if, but when the little runaway boy sees that there is something he’s good at and he fights hard to be a success that his father never was. It’s not a matter of if but when the little girl is able to find a home that will love her and show her a life where feelings aren’t drenched with a needle and folks walk through life with their eyes open. It’s not a matter of if but when the two children are able to go to Summer camp and actually experience time away from babysitting their mother that they understand that nobody deserves to live this way. It’s not a matter of if, but when… and I can’t wait to be a part of seeing lives changed and youth finding their bright future.