Tag Archives: Neighbors for Kids Depoe Bay Oregon

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week…The Resilience of Homeless Kids…

The Resilience of Homeless Kids…but not without long term emotional needs and support…

Who is the homeless?  “Storied Streets” Watch this powerful documentary trailer…

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National Hunger and Homlessness Awareness Week November 14th-22nd, 2015

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Homeless kids look and act typical in school but often suffer alone and in silence…

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I was moved today listening to Susan Sarandon on NBC Today talking about her new documentary “Storied Streets.”    I know in my own community of Lincoln County Oregon, we have experienced an increase in the population of homeless children who go to school each and every day and survive and thrive…moving on with their lives in very responsible ways.  These kids stay focused on getting a good education because they know this is the path to becoming a healthy and productive adult.

In my own experience as a board member of Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon, and as a author and blogger, there are many stories of homeless kids who set a great example for others by overcoming the many challenges of surviving and thriving without the consistent emotional support of a stable and permanent home.  We work hard to help kids find a strong footing and balance with healthy adult and peer support in our community.  Most importantly we show love and compassion for children of all ages who join us each day during normal public school hours and out-of-school programs like Neighbors for Kids.

In my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, I included a special story, written by Jenny Green, a former homeless child.  Following is an excerpt from my book, Chapter 3. in her own words as a homeless military child.

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Jenny Green while working for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife…

“It was during one of these summers when I was 12 about to be 13 and had to attend summer school, that Mom closed the door to me. It was my last day of elementary school, when I got home all the doors and windows were locked and Mom was not answering. I sat on the porch till 10pm wondering what had happened, asking neighbors if they had seen anyone at the apartment, nothing. I went to a 5th grade friend’s house, but her family did not want anything to do with stained clothed, ammonia smelling kid; they told me to leave and not return.

Under the glow of the dim street light I slept on the porch that night.  The next morning I walked downtown to the amphitheater next to the Ohio River. I would sleep in and around this amphitheater for the next three months. Summer school did not serve lunch, so at night for food I would dig in the dumpsters of the local restaurants after they had closed. I remember eating half eaten fried chicken legs, macaroni salad with my fingers, licking pie filling off of paper plates, and using old napkins with lipstick stains smeared on them.

I remember being afraid to sleep outside at night; so I would walk around town, watch the trains, or sit and listen to the coal barges and tugs going up and down the Ohio River till dawn. I was also afraid of the local law enforcement, as I was scared of getting in trouble for being homeless and filthy. I did not know at the time that they would actually have helped me. I kept going home every other day and knocking on the door and no one ever answered, even though I could see the mail was picked up and curtains were moved.

The day 7th grade started, again I went back home and knocked on the door. To my surprise my mom answered the door. Dark circles under her eyes, dirty clothes, and matted hair is how she greeted me. I asked where she had been, and all she could say was that she had been busy. I told her 7th grade started today and I need her to go register me for school at the junior high, she agreed and we walked to school. I walk in the office with the same jeans, t-shirt, socks, and shoes I had been wearing for four months since the end of April, as people are staring at us I get registered for school and receive my class schedule.

Second period was algebra, and I hated math but I did not know that my life was about to change. I met my best friend Tracy; she didn’t care what I looked like or smelled like. In fact, later in the school year her Mom and Dad invited me over to their house as often as I wanted. They fed me, washed my clothes, and let me shower. By 8th grade I was living in their house. Mom still had custody of me but she allowed for my move. I was in their household ’till just after high school graduation with a 3.75 GPA, college bound, clean clothes and good food.

Someone had finally given me a chance to survive, and I thrived…”

Jenny Green has been working for Neighbors for Kids as our STEM Teacher for several years now.  She is one of our most popular teachers.  Jenny continues her higher education with the goal of a long term career in teaching K-12 science.  Jenny also loves photography and spends her free time finding unique photo shots of the Oregon coastal region.

Please become involved in supporting homelessness in your community during this week of National Hunger and Homeless Awareness…and all year long…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and order my book(s)…  Jenny Green’s complete story is in chapter 3 of My Journey of Healing, Part 2.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate…

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Kids Early in School to be Mindful of Stress is a Huge Step in Mitigating the Onset of Long Term Depression and Anxiety!

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Students practicing mindfulness…with the aid of a teacher…

Schools are now teaching kids…and parents…how to deal with stress…  Quote from this link…

 October 7

On a recent Tuesday morning at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest Washington, Sofia Parodi took a coveted seat at the head of the classroom and asked a fellow fourth-grader to switch off the lights.

“Close your eyes and take three deep breaths,” she instructed her classmates, who fell into a familiar rhythm of silently counting their breaths, then sharing their experience with their classmates.

Sofia was the day’s mindfulness helper, a temporary apprentice to Linda Ryden. Ryden is Lafayette’s peace teacher (yes, that’s her title), who leads about 500 of the school’s students in weekly courses on mindfulness — a practice aimed at enhancing self-awareness and reducing stress by focusing, without judgment, on the present moment.

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I have been writing about teaching kids and parents how to be mindful of stressful circumstances both at home, in school, and at play for 5 years now in this blog and through my books.  Just the other day during a stressful meeting as a board member of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we paused to be mindful as adults of the challenges facing us as community leaders.  Our teachers and mentors practice the same mindfulness exercises with our students each and every day.  We do this to help all of us recognize that we are not alone in feeling the stressful aspects of life and the day to day challenges we all face together.  The practice of “mindfulness stress reduction” (click this link) really works and is catching on more and more in schools everywhere.

During my early life in school, we were silent about stress most of the time…  It was an exhausting and lonely time for many post WWII and Korean War kids who lived in often toxic and violent circumstances at home.  Once in awhile there would be a teacher or mentor who paid special attention to those of us struggling with stress, and tried to help.  For the most part we tried to keep a safe distance from the emotional pain because it was not generally understood during the Post WWII era.  Consequently, and sadly, we moved on to adult life with all this bottled up emotional baggage that had to come out sooner or later…and it did in often tragic ways.

The good news…it is never to late to confront the baggage connected with post trauma circumstances, even after many years of denial or avoidance.  It took me until age 64 to find my way to a path of healing by writing my first non-fiction memoir.  There are many alternative strategies to practice mindfulness stress reduction.  Writing and speaking about the subject has been a gift of peace of mind for me for the first time in my life.  Be kind to yourself and others and learn more about ways to reduce stress through the practice of mindfulness.  I admit it is a work in progress, but has been very effective for so many who stick with it, especially children.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate