Saying goodbye is never easy, but for the children who move on from A Kid's Place it becomes a milestone. They take what we refer to as "the longest walk" as they move around the courtyard, saying their goodbyes. This moment is wrapped up in a blanket of security and support. The walk is devoted to dedicated house parents and youth counselors who have given 100% to making these children feel safe, loved, and nurtured. A community that stepped in and provided funding for programs, outings and events, and countless volunteer hours. Staff who advocated for each child in the schools, at medical appointments, and with case managers.
So many people touch the lives of the children in our care, and we are grateful for everyone working together as a team to make a difference. What thoughts run through these young minds as they move around the circle and say goodbye to the friends they've made and the interim family they've formed? There must be an element of the unknown. Butterflies must flutter in each stomach - trepidation mixed with joy. This is the moment children look toward, but for each child leaving there are children who stay back and wonder when their turn will be. Mixed feelings of leaving your friends but moving onto a more permanent placement.
Today there were tears from house parents who offered a quick hug before turning away and moving back to their house where there were still children in need of dinner, baths, stories, and bed. A few lumps in a few throats. Waves at the door, waves at the car, waves at the gate. The longest walk of a program that changes the lives of foster children, one child at a time.