Helping the invisible children

I’m not afraid to admit that I have a weak spot for children. I’m the uncle that jumps around with your kids all day, destroying your house in the process, and then I go home – leaving you the mess. Unfortunately, for my sister and my good friend Nilka, it’s payback time. Now I have my own daughter that they can help destroy my home.

Anyways, I only mention that stuff to highlight my weakness for children. I wanted to write this blog to bring to your attention a cause that I’m dedicated to.

As we know, the homeless population in the United States is very high, one of the highest amongst developed countries. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless website, approximately one percent of the population experiences homelessness every year.

Of that one percent of the population, 39 percent are children. In other words, for every 10 homeless people, about four of them are children. There are well over 100,000 homeless children in Massachusetts per year alone.

These children, through no fault of their own, have been dealt a life that I wouldn’t wish on an enemy. That’s why I’m asking you to volunteer whatever time you can to helping a child by lending an ear and being a friend. Many of them, whether the entire family is homeless or just the child, don’t have anyone to talk to.

During the summer of 2009 I was a volunteer at a program called Horizons for Homeless Children.  My official title was a ‘playspace activity leader,’ or a PAL.  My job was exactly that – to jump around with children and make a mess. That was something I knew how to do well. My only problem was the fact that I only got to play with the kids for only two hours one day a week. Regardless, it was rewarding work and I hope to have made a lasting impression on at least one child.

So I’m encouraging you to give your time to these kids. Many times all they need is someone that will listen to them and acknowledge them. Contact your local YMCA and inquire about volunteer opportunities or become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Trust me, you won’t regret one minute of the experience. Neither will the children you spend time with.

If you’d like to volunteer some of your time to Horizons for Homeless Children you can visit their website to get more information. The only requirement they ask is that you make a six month commitment to volunteering two hours per week. That’s it.

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