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Kids These Days:

Time for giving

November 30, 2009|By Steve Smith

The 5-year-old walked home a few blocks in the snow of a Chicago winter. Home was a cramped apartment where he lived with his parents and three brothers. When he got to the door, he saw on it a sheet of paper affixed with a thumbtack. Although he was a good reader, he had never seen the word “notice,” but he did recognize the number “three” and the word “day” that appeared just before the mystery word.

The boy’s clothes were hand-me-downs from his two oldest brothers. He did not mind because, like a lot of his friends, he thought that wearing his big brother’s clothes was cool. Dinner that night was fried baloney and mashed potatoes, not because that was what everyone was asking for, but because it was all his mother could afford.

His mother did what she could given the limited income she had. She tried to work as little as possible so that she could spend time with her children, but, more and more, she was finding herself having to fill in the gap between her husband’s paycheck and their expenses. So, she worked weekends, when her husband could watch the kids. That schedule, however, meant less time as a complete family when it would have mattered most.

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The parents missed their three-day deadline and had to move quickly. The next stop was down to a two-room apartment overlooking a gas station. The four boys slept in one small room. Rent was paid by the week. The holidays came and went as just another year that the family did as much as they could with their meager resources

The boy’s mother thought many times about leaving — about taking the kids, or perhaps a couple of them, and trying to start over somewhere else. But in 1960, the options for someone in her situation were limited. Besides, it was not in her to quit, even though common sense told her it was time.

Today, there are many options for families on the brink and families that are broken. Today, abused women and children do not have to take it anymore.

One of the best options anywhere is right here in Newport-Mesa at the Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter in Costa Mesa. Yes, there is shelter, but there is much more, including job training, financial planning and instructions on how to run a home.

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