The tears rolled down Sarah’s chubby little cheeks. Huge, crocodile tears, tears of confusion and fear. Every day was the same. From the moment she woke up those tears would well up, her wide eyes questioning.
What do you say to a child who has been taken from her home? How do you soothe her fears? These are the questions faced each and every day at the Children’s Emergency Shelter.
The answers are never easy. One child’s situation is totally different from another’s. But, in each instance, love and affection can open the door to trust.
For Sarah, comfort didn’t come quickly. The life she knew had been ripped apart by circumstances hard to explain to a four-year-old.
“I need to go home, because I love my parents with all my heart,” she would earnestly tell the volunteers at the shelter.
So many of the kids at the Children’s Emergency Shelter have been abused, neglected, and forgotten and find themselves at the shelter while a better living situation is secured for them. It is our job to show them a different way of life, to shower them with love and affection, and to teach them wrong from right.
For Sarah, all she needed was affirmation that she wasn’t going to be left alone. By the end of her stay, she could play most of the day without ever shedding a tear. She also began to understand that this situation she was in wasn’t going to last forever. She had hope that one day she would be reunited with her family.
The Children’s Emergency Shelter volunteers and staff members know that they are giving children a chance at hope. Even if we only spend one day with a child, we are confident that they will leave our care knowing that there are people in this world who love unconditionally. For Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, it is a blessing and an honor to serve each and every child we meet.