For some a year goes by in the blink of an eye; for other's it seems an eternity. In the case of families at Hearth Homes a year is a big commitment. The single mothers we serve have chosen engagement in community, accountability and daily participation in challenging classes and conversations, in an effort to break cycles of pain, addiction and abuse. A year of this commitment can be grueling.
Recently we celebrated a very special birthday; Jackson turning one. His mother came to Hearth Homes with her two daughters just 3 days before she gave birth. In this year, Jackson has grown in a safe environment busy with other children, as his mother focused on developing her parenting, domestic and interpersonal skills. Her choice to commit to growth will benefit him all the years of his life.
This weekend, we also celebrated AnnaMae's second birthday. Like Jackson, Hearth Homes is all she's ever known. Her mother is currently preparing to transition into an apartment of her own. This will be the first time she's ever lived on her own and, understandably, there is some trepidation. "I feel anxious, but I feel ready," she says. And we agree: We're anxious for her and her children, but we are excited and confident that the tremendous work she's done to build a healthy support network, and the skills she's learned and adopted at Hearth Homes, have readied her for this. And we are always her family.
It is difficult to describe the impact a year, let alone two, can have on a family. The mothers at Hearth Homes have experienced what authentic relationship is and learn how to say "no" to unhealthy influences. They've learned about their children's development and how to parent appropriately. They've even gained the skills needed to safely manage a household and facilitate hospitable meals. Jackson and AnnaMae have never experienced the trauma of living on the street. They have never seen their mother hit or humiliated. They have known big family dinners every evening, bedtime tuck-ins every night, and clean and sober households. For these things, it is difficult to attach a value. After all, a safe, loving home and family is priceless.