Healing Holes In Hearts

By Darlene MacInnis

I have always known that having a good mother is a very special gift. My maternal grandmother Marjorie, passed away at the very young age of thirty-two, leaving behind eleven children between the ages of three months and thirteen years. My mother, Norma, was just nine years old. The family looked after one another, with my mother’s sister Josie taking over the role of mother. Then, three years later when she married, my mother took over for her, assisted by members of the extended family who did whatever they could to help nurture the children. I am proud to say that I grew up in a home where there was always room at the table for one more person.

I was in the first grade the first time I met a child who was in the foster care program, Ruth, who became a wonderful, caring friend. One spring day all of us children were sent outside when a social worker came to our one-room schoolhouse to talk to our teacher about Ruth. All of us, including Ruth, feared that the social worker was there to whisk her away, and vowed that we were not going to let this happen. We loved Ruth and did not want to lose her.

The social worker’s car was covered in mud. We wrote “Do Not Take Ruth” all over it, and for good measure tied tin cans to the rear bumper. The social worker did not take Ruth away from us that day, and we were able to enjoy her friendship for few more years until, sadly, the inevitable occurred and she had to move away.

It was then that I knew that I was going to be a foster parent some day. I understood that not everyone was as lucky as I was, and I knew that I could help. Over the years I have had many children other than my own call my house home, and I have also been a group home worker. I have had the pleasure of tucking in many different children at night, and I hope that I have made some small difference in their lives. I know that they have made a difference in mine.

An eight-year-old girl with whom I have worked, describes the longing to have someone who cares as “a hole in the heart that cannot be healed.” I believe that it can, with love, be healed. We need to create a world where every child has someone to be there for them through the good times and the difficult times too. We can all do our part by doing small or large things to improve the life of a child. We need to need to see all of the goodness and potential inside each child. We need to believe in the child until he can believe in himself.

By sharing our blessings everyone has the opportunity to touch and change a child's life forever. This support can be provided in many different ways, and everyone can do their part to create Heaven On Earth.

Some of us may feel inspired to become foster parents. There are many children waiting to be welcomed into a loving home. Children in Care may have been neglected and abused. . Foster homes give the child a safe place to heal and grow and often are the first glimpse of a healthy family relationship. Sadly, many never experience the care and security of a foster home and grow up in group homes, which are the modern day answer to orphanages.

For those that would find the commitment of having a child live with them on a full time basis too much, opening your home as a respite home would be a way to support Foster families. These homes allow Foster Children a safe place to stay so that Foster families can take a well deserved break. The commitment could be as small as an occasional weekend. For the retired person choosing to volunteer at a school to help a child with their schoolwork could be the commitment of only hours a week Foster children often lag behind in the educational system. Having one on one attention will often help and the relationship that you may build with the child will be a gift to you both.

Others may decide to volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a wonderful organization always looking for new people to meet the needs of children.

Internationally for as little as one dollar per day anyone can sponsor a child and make a tangible and lasting difference in a world where life is often a struggle. Sponsorship provides medical and dental care, education, clothing and leadership skills. It also assists the communities where these children live in many ways. one of these is by bringing precious fresh water to the villages. Imagine how your support can change the world and help to break the bonds of poverty. Sponsorship can be done through organizations such as Children International or World Vision.

By opening our hearts and lives to children in need, we can help change the world, because the child who is nurtured and believed in will pass self-esteem and love on to the next generation. Your home could be the refuge when it is not safe to be in their own home. You could be the person who the child knows can help him sort through whatever difficulties are occurring in his or her life. Set an extra place at the supper table. Get to know a child and find out what she likes or dislikes. Try asking what constitutes his Heaven on Earth.

The world is always a better place when somebody believes in you—you can be the person to make a difference in a child’s life.

Darlene MacInnis is a Child and Youth Care Worker and a Family Service Worker, employed with Child and Family Services. She lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, with her husband Trevor and  daughter, Sophie. Her daughter, Alecia, son Mitchel and stepson Craig, are adults, living in their own homes.