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Home away from Home

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It was the beginning of summer, and I had no purpose. After the first fifteen minutes of uninhibited excitement, summer’s emptiness had knocked the air out of me, like a bowling ball making impact with a fluffy pillow. I was deflated. I had no plans, no desires, nothing. All there was to do was wander around my house, sporadically check my Facebook, play backgammon with my mom, and go on an occasional run in the neighborhood. These activities sustained me for the first week, but soon I began to get frustrated. I was dying of boredom.
One day my mom dragged me to Clay Casa, an arts and crafts store where you can paint clay figures. While I was putting the last coat of paint on my blue-spotted monkey, I got a call. It was my friend asking if I wanted to volunteer at a place called St. John’s. Since I wanted more than anything to expel my boredom, I enthusiastically and wholeheartedly agreed.
“It’s a place where children are kept from their parents when things aren’t working out at home,” Cara informed me as we walked up to the building. “We will have to start setting the games up at one thirty because the club starts at two.” We were hosting a board game club at St. John’s that would meet every day from two to five.

When we reached the building, we heaved the bulky doors open and peered inside. Right in front of us sat about twenty kids, eating their breakfasts, talking amongst themselves, and occasionally giving us an energetic wave. I returned their waves, amused and touched by how friendly the kids were after being taken from their homes. Cara and I stood there for a moment and observed. I watched a group of fifteen-year-old girls talk excitedly about the Twilight series. I saw two six-year-olds ram their toy cars into each others’ dishes. I heard fourteen-year-old boys quoting Disney Channel shows. These kids seemed normal. They were just like me at different ages, and I felt compassion for them. It was unfair that they had to spend their summers in an institution, not because they did something wrong, but because their parents were not responsible. Realizing the inequities facing the children, I wanted more than anything to make their summer enjoyable.
At one thirty we set up our games in a classroom. I was so excited that my hands shook as I unfolded the chess boards and monopoly sets. By two o’clock, we had everything ready, and the door opened. My mouth broke into a long smile as the kids came rushing in, their eyes bouncing from game to game with delight. Immediately, children approached me, begging to play games with me, tugging on my hands in different directions, arguing about who I would play with first. Anita wanted me to play Candyland. Marie wanted me to play Madeline’s Race to the Roof. Zach wanted me to play chess. I was flattered. I finally decided that I would spend a little time with each of them, so I went from board game to board game, high-fiving and joking with the kids as I played.
By the end of the three hours, I had twenty new friends, and I couldn’t wait to come back. As I drove home, I had a new appreciation for my house and family. What I had taken for granted the week before was what the children at St. John’s prayed for constantly. I knew that it was my responsibility to give these children a home for three hours each day. I had found a purpose, and I knew that it would make my summer and the summer of the children at St. John’s incredible.





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Jazzy said...
Oct. 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm
I wish I can help people or even animals in need right now.The thing is I want to lead an organization and I need more people to do that.
 
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