We Are Running Out of Time...

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"We Are Running Out of Time"

By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

Last week, I made the trek across the state to drop my 18 year old son Kyle off at college for the first time. It was an emotional day…I am so proud that he got into the school of his choice and he’s looking to change the world, but so sad that he’s leaving the nest.

As I was driving to the campus, I began to think about the journey that got us to this moment. Before Kyle was 7, we had moved seven times. Each time we moved, I encountered an angrier, more anxious little boy. By the time we arrived at our house in Chalfont he was doing very poorly in school, having trouble making friends and having behavioral issues in and out of the classroom.

That changed though, when we purchased the house we have lived in for the last eleven years. By having a consistent place to lay his head, do his homework and invite friends over for playdates and sleepovers, his anger eventually subsided and his school performance improved to the point that we could begin thinking about life beyond a secondary education. Growing up in the same community allowed him to create life-long friendships, participate in community activities and even be the star of a play or two.

Kyle was able to realize his potential because he had the stable foundation of a permanent home. Even though it did not come until he was 7, the time that he spent there was enough to change the course of his life from a kid who had been labeled angry and a troublemaker to one that had a bright future ahead.

 

The permanency of a home does this. We know this because there is an overwhelming body of evidence to support this finding, but I know it because I have seen it firsthand. My home is not fancy or extravagant, but it is mine and it is a place where my children feel safe, secure and empowered to go out in the world and try new things.

What I also know is that we only have a few short years in a child’s life to change their trajectory from one of moving from place to place to one of stability. There are only 18 years between the time they are born and the time that they are expected to leave the nest and become an adult, but what happens in those 18 years can impact them for a lifetime.

By moving a family into a home of their own during this critical time, we can stop those things that make a child vulnerable to a life with limited choices…We can stop the cycle of poverty from perpetuating, stop behavior issues and poor school performance through consistency and routine and we can stop a young adult from seeing the world as something to be survived rather than embraced.  

But we can only do this by building more homes for families in need…and we are running out of time. Eighteen years seems like a long time, but looking back now, I see that the years have flown by. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to own a home of my own so that I could provide this stability, but I also know that I am lucky.  There are so many other families who want this stability more than anything, but it eludes them because of the significant crisis in affordable housing.

Each time I receive a call from a family looking for information about purchasing a home, I think about this dilemma…Habitat can only build so many structures due to limited funding and property, but there are so many families who need them now. They are living as Kyle and I did – moving from place to place, trying to afford the rent and utilities, changing schools and towns each so often it is hard to remember one place from the next.

As our supporters, I ask you to think about the fact that there are so many kids like Kyle. Kids who have been mislabeled or written off because of their challenges with housing, but given the chance, they can (and will!) go on to do great things. I ask you to think about how you might change that story for any one of them by supporting our mission with your time, talent and treasure. We can’t stop children from growing up, but we can help them do so in a way that assures a bright future.