“I used to be scared of homelessness. Now I know it is just about people like us who are just looking for a home.” Makenzie, 8 years old, reflected as we drove home from our third time volunteering to help St. Luke’s host the families of Family Promise. The three of us, including my four year old son, continued to talk about playing air hockey, making playdough figures and eating strawberry ice cream with the families in the Lodge that evening, talking as if we had just finished an evening with long-time friends. My husband, Tim, was not with us because he was staying overnight at the Lodge with the families, but I knew he would have been interested in the conversation.
The evening started as I picked up the kids from their after-school activities and headed to St. Luke’s, about a 35 minute drive through the traffic, to serve as evening hosts. While the opportunity was familiar to my kids, it had been a hectic couple of days and they were headed into Thanksgiving break, so I expected to hear some disgruntlement. However, that was not the case. Once we arrived at Luke’s Lodge, the kids jumped out of the car and said, “Can we go in?” Supporting their excitement, we all quickly entered and were greeted by one of the boys staying at the Lodge and the fun began. Before we could sit down for dinner (one volunteer family brings dinner each evening for the group and another family or two volunteer as the evening hosts), Spencer had hugged a boy about the same age and Makenzie was ready to play air hockey with a few of the older boys she had just met. My children are not extroverts, but tonight they seemed at ease and eager to just be kids.
As I finished dinner, Bob Dillingham (the lead St. Luke’s volunteer for Family Promise) and I looked around, commenting, with excitement, to each other about the kids’ comfort. We spent the next few hours meeting the Family Promise families and spending quality time specifically with the children as their moms had some well-needed recovery time. It was a lovely evening that was designed as a service opportunity, but, as I learned on the way home, was also impactful on my family.