By Steve and Carla McRee
After being separated for a year, 10 year-old Nicholas* was so excited when the day came for him to move to Shepherd’s Gate with his mom Bethany* and his younger brother.
“It was just for the school year, but it felt like a lifetime. I was happy for my mom being here, but I was uneasy about not being able to come here with her. But I know she needed time to get settled,” he says.
When kids like Nicholas face the trauma of homelessness, domestic violence, poverty, and parental addiction, it takes a toll on their entire future. Consider this, from Time Magazine:
“Homeless children are twice as likely as other children to be “retained,” or held back, one academic year, or to be suspended or, ultimately, to drop out of school altogether. School districts across the country report a growing share of students who are “highly mobile” — who move multiple times within a school year. With each move, experts say, such students are at risk of falling some six months behind, or more, in their studies. Roughly one-quarter of homeless children have witnessed violence. It isn’t surprising, then, that nearly half of such children suffer from anxiety and depression.”
Nicholas is in 5th grade and has already attended 4 schools. He makes friends easily but the transitions of the past few years have been hard.
Many families feel they can face anything as long as they are together. When they are separated, it can be deeply painful and often compounds their previous difficulties.
After a year apart, Nicholas was thrilled that his family would be together again, but he was also a little nervous. He’s lived in shelters and temporary housing with his mom before. “I kinda expected it to be bad because of the other places we’ve been,” he says. “But when I got here, I was amazed. It looked beautiful . . . like two big mansions sitting out here. In our room, there were beds for all of us.”
His favorite thing? “I’m just happy that it helps Mom.” We’re happy, too, because we know that in helping Nicholas’ mom rebuild her life, we’re helping Nicholas. He is an amazing young man, and we are proud to have such a great kid here at Shepherd’s Gate!
*Names changed to protect privacy.