Monday, February 1, 2016

Almost Home

Almost Home

Adult nonfiction
My favorite people in the world are my children. While they
lived at home my husband and I did our best to meet their physical,
intellectual needs and enable them to pursue their dreams--to be the
wind beneath their wings and the roots that gave them security. Now
that they are grown and moving out into the world the time I spend
with them is precious beyond measure.
The hard reality is that not all children have secure homes and
loving families. Some, especially LGBT youngsters, are discarded by
nonaccepting parents. Some have to flee toxic environments that may
include parental substance addiction or physical, emotional, or even
sexual abuse. Some are taken from families and thrown into a
revolving door foster care system and sent out on their 18th
birthdays, often without the basic skills for survival. A lot of
these kids end up on the street, often becoming the property of pimps
and other abusers.
Fortunately there are angels in human form determined to save as
many as possible. The Covenant House movement is a fine example. In
a series of safe homes and transitional apartment complexes in the
United States and Canada fragile and damaged youngsters are cared for,
loved, and nurtured so they can gain the skills and strengths they
need to change their paths to ones with bright futures.
Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley's Almost Home gives readers six
profiles of people who went through Covenant House to escape from
intolerable situations. You'll meet:
*Paulie, caught between estranged adoptive (he was taken from his teen
age birth mom) parents: his violent father and his drug addicted
mother, neither able to give him the supervision that could have kept
him out of trouble;
*Muriel, born with fetal alcohol syndrome, addicted to drugs before
her teens, sold to pimps over the Internet;
*Benjamin, tortured by his parents and then placed in a series of
placements by the state--too often emergency shelters or other group
settings rather than families;
*Creionna, a motherless teen and hurricane evacuee, impregnated and
abandoned by a peer, fleeing her father's house for her six-week-old
baby's safety...
in addition to the poignant true stories, you learn of the many
factors that set youngsters up for homelessness. Narrative and
background are interwoven seamlessly. It's a lot of food for thought.
But the authors don't just want you to put the book down after
reading it. There are suggestions for ways most of us can help to
prevent homelessness and rescue young people from the streets. It
takes a pretty darn big village.
On a personal note, this book brings back memories. When I was in
that age range my early retired mom and severely handicapped sibling
moved to an isolated island off the coast of North Carolina. My
father was fired and alcoholic and making bad decisions. Once he had
said a stranger who bought him drinks could have me. (I made sure
that didn't happen). I was alone in Massachussets. There was this
economic recession going on. For years doing the unpaid housekeeping,
caretaking (great aunt with Alzheimers), tutoring (sibling) and being
my college professor mother's teaching assistant and secretary didn't
give me the chance to hold the paying jobs that would have established
me in the workforce. For a long time what jobs I could get barely
covered shared apartment rent. I teetered on the brink of
homelessness, walking up to twenty miles a day and making one can of
tomato soup stretch for three meals. But eventually that fell
through. I would have loved it if there had been a Covenant House
around then.
A great big shout out goes out to all those who work to rescue young
people from the streets and give them hopeful futures.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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