As a mother, woman, writer, business owner, and longtime Renton resident there are many hats that I allow to grace my head on any given day. I pride myself in taking a look at things. In fact, I thought I usually took what I deemed a clear look. However, from the autumn of 2011 until now I can say that my eyes are sharper than ever. Any fog across the horizon has shifted thanks to a woman named Ginny who works with our local Communities in Schools organization.
My lesson commenced as I was driving down the street and passed a local elementary school. It was a chilly morning, and as I glanced around I saw a group of children. A couple wore coats, one wore a hoodie, and then there was a child with his Batman backpack on, head slightly bent and his hair was disheveled. His dark gray short-sleeve shirt seemed to show more of his chest as the rain bore down on him causing it to cling to him. The kids moved faster toward the building and as I glanced in their direction one last time I shook my head wondering why he wasn’t wearing his coat.
The following weekend Ginny and several of her co-workers came to my church and spoke about their organization and the assistance they provide for families in crises: job loss, domestic violence, drug usage within families and much more. They were the advocates for the families to help the families succeed and assist the children with thriving in school. I was unfamiliar with the organization, and sat speechless as they distributed statistics showing much of what was happening in the elementary school down the street from my home. The same school the young man was heading towards sans his coat a couple of days prior. Guilt hit me as I realized while I watched the children walking, I never allowed the thought to cross my mind that this child might not have a coat in his home to wear
Over t.he next week I became educated in what to watch for around the community. Once I realized my eyes were wide open I could see the individuals that often surface in the darkness of night with their backpack, so they don’t have to face the stares of others in the light. The blankets visible in the distant woods as you drive along parts of Petrovitsky Road, the hidden cave areas of Liberty Park that become the protection from the evening chill from some in the evenings.
I began to take action through my church, Communities in Schools, family, friends…It is still amazing as I realize what started as one having their eyes opened has turned in to a village of helpers within our community. It is a personal reminder that after the Christmas holiday has passed, New Year’s celebration has occurred and nothing seems to be happening but the coldness of the winter months- there are still many suffering. That often means they are next door, or right down the streets from our cozy homes.