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By Ron Starcher, Director Client Services
Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley
Blog Entry - Thursday, Feb 24, 2011
If you are like me, you have a store of memories from your childhood that you often revisit. For me, these include my 1st dog, my first day of school, family trips, playing with friends in the neighborhood, my 1st car, my graduation from high school, and more too many to mention. Homelessness is not part of my experience.
I think of this nearly every day when I see the children in the lobby of the Resident Building waiting for their busses to take them to school. Imagine going to school from the Mission and returning to the Mission at the end of the school day. Imagine attending junior high school hoping that none of your friends discover that you live at the Mission. Imagine that you are the 18 year old high school senior who lives here, who will graduate this year, and has no family support for things like senior pictures, graduation fees, and even the hope of a graduation open house.
If the Mission was not here, these kids and their parents would be on the streets. The high school senior would stay with anyone who would allow him to crash for a few nights. We work hard to make the Mission a safe, clean, and inviting place for the kids who stay with us. Our hope is that the memories of their time here will be pleasant.
I was a 16yr old living at the mission with my mom back in 1993/1994. I was homeschooled, so I was stuck at the mission a lot. We weren't from Youngstown, so I'm glad nobody knew me there, although it was hard not having any friends. I turned 17 while there. By the time we left, my mom finally enrolled me in my hometown high school. I graduated a yr later, went to college (it took 5 yrs and 2 colleges due to financial issues, but did get lots of scholarships), and now have been teaching for 11yrs. God has brought me so far since my mission days. I don't always know if my kindergartners are homeless or not, but my days at the mission showed me that life isn't always perfect. I know that I have to be at least one person who remains that one constant in a child's life, regardless of their home life.