Friday, October 18, 2013

Service Reflection: Kenzie Fuller

I had been anxiously waiting all week to return to the animated faces and toothless smiles of the kids at Transitions. These kids were all previously homeless-living on the streets, in their cars, or in shelters-or had fled domestic abuse with their mothers. During these past few weeks, it has been incredible spending time with these goofballs and rewarding to see the growth and impact that has been made on both them and us. I was eager to help them sound out words in books, chase them around the playground, and hear about their days at school.

When we arrived at Transitions, however, they needed a few people to help clean out an apartment for a new family to move in. Being my domestic self, I figured I’d put my elbow grease to work. So, the cleaning crew was shown into the apartment complex, gloves on our hands and Lil’ Wayne rappin’ in our heads.

As we entered the apartment, I was in shock of what I saw. There were fresh loads of laundry dumped near the entrance and dirty dishes overflowed the sink. Tiny shoes were scattered across the floor and there was a distinct musty smell. The fridge and freezer were full of food and papers were lying around. I felt as if I had just entered the scene of a crime.

To the right, in the master bedroom, there were purses in piles that had clearly been dumped out for their contents. The mattress on the floor looked like someone had been tossing and turning all night. In the two kids bedrooms, the sheets were draped from the beds as if the kids had been ripped out of them while they were asleep. Toys and board game pieces were dispersed throughout the room, letters from their imprisoned father lay on their desks, and there was a tiny medical walker in one of the rooms.
We were told that the family of three had abandoned their apartment in the middle of the night and had not returned. I was instantly overcome with chills. The thought of this family returning to the streets made me sick to my stomach. Can you imagine being so scared that you had to flee your home? Being in so much danger that you would prefer to be cold and homeless?

We put all of their personal items into big, black trash bags.

winter coat
love letter
fresh fruit
J and J
phone charger
medical examination
teddy bear
Halloween candy

I felt like I was single handedly bagging up their lives to be thrown into the next garbage truck. Everything that this mom had worked so hard for would no longer be in reach. My hands that were meant for helping and creating were hurting and destroying.

As the group and I were reflecting later, a Knight illustrated that this could rather be seen as a form of prayer. It was as if we were picking up the pieces that this family wanted to shed. We were helping them move forward and showing them not to be afraid. Our hands were not only humbly gathering their belongings but were on their backs in support and were holding their hands in guidance.

I have found myself thinking about the mom and her two boys a lot since Monday. I hope that they are safe and warm. I hope the boys have been attending school and are not hungry. The extraordinary measures this mother took to protect her children reflects her courage and strength. I am confident that her hands will rebuild and restore their lives for the better.

-Kenzie Fuller

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