Do you remember waking up on the first day of school with a sense of anticipation? You rolled out of bed and got dressed in your favorite outfit. You filled your backpack with bright folders, new packs of paper, and a box of sharpened pencils. Your stomach flipped with nerves as you walked out the front door ready to take on the new year.
At Doorways, we have the joy of seeing the kids in our programs wake up to this same exciting routine. And while backpacks and school supplies can set the stage for academic success, the children we serve, like Juan, need more.
Juan was six years old when he came to Doorways’ Domestic Violence Safehouse with his mother and siblings after domestic violence led to their becoming homeless. As the big brother, he felt he needed to be strong for his siblings and mother to rely on. He was doing his best to remain calm, responsible and “okay,” but he was experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety. School became his safe place where he could relax and focus on just being a kid.
Soon after arriving at our Domestic Violence Safehouse, during one of Juan’s sessions with his children’s counselor, he showed her a large drawing he made of a volcano erupting. Seeing how heavy and chaotic the lines were in this and other drawings, the counselor worked with Juan to use art to express his emotions.
After a few months of working with the team at Doorways, Juan and his family moved from shelter into their very own home. Meanwhile, Juan earned praise at school for being one of the brightest and friendliest kids in his class.
Juan’s children’s counselor was delighted to the positive transformation in Juan. He was thriving in his new stable, calm, and violence-free home. His counselor continued visits with him at his home, where he was showing improvement in coping with his sense of responsibility for his family.
In one session with his counselor, Juan chose to express himself through art again, but this time, he drew something different. He drew a big colorful home with a beautiful landscape of fountains, birds, and trees. There was structure and order to his work, and a calmness to its colors. When he was finished he looked up at his counselor and proudly said,
“That’s my new home.”
Each year, Doorways supports more than 1,500 children who have been impacted by homelessness, domestic violence, or sexual assault. Our many doorways provide not just shelter and housing, but therapeutic services tailored to the needs of each child. These investments in our youngest clients are vital in fostering their resiliency so they can regain their footing and get back on a path to success. We believe every client—of every age—deserves these opportunities.
When you donate to Doorways, you help ensure that Juan and families like his have the support they need to achieve safety and stability. You can be the reason even more kids are proudly saying, “That’s my new home.”