It’s Friday evening, and the Madison County Ride van pulls up to Procter. Inside are three boys who are not sure where they are or if they want to be here. Their parents come in and get their paperwork filled out and soon they are on their way.
This is Respite Care, a new program at Procter. We have begun working with Madison County Jobs and Family Services to provide respite care for children whose family may be struggling with a variety of issues. The goal is to give the parents a little break to work on their own issues, so that the family can stay together. The children come to Procter once a month on a Friday and stay through breakfast on Sunday.
We have two great staff folks to work with the kids this weekend, Luke and Curtis. The boys are very quiet and it takes a bit to draw them out. Then we go to the dining hall and they see all that great food and begin to relax as we have dinner. Many fun activities are planned for the weekend, and despite the cold they want to do it all – fishing, hiking, basketball and of course, a campfire with s’mores.
On Saturday night the kids help prepare their own dinner, and savor each bit a little more as they learn to make lasagna. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and the boys painted flowerpots and presented them on Sunday. Each activity that is planned is purposeful and the results are beginning to show.
After the last Respite Care weekend this spring, one of the boys asked Luke if he had to wait a whole month to see him again. Luke reached out to Madison County and is now able to meet with the boy and his father on a regular basis, through their Wraparound Care program. The child will also be joining us at camp this summer and he can’t wait to see Curtis again and really experience all Procter has to offer with the pool and lake and other summertime favorites.
We have made a positive impact on that child and his family as we followed Jesus into our neighborhood. We are making a concerted effort to reach out to our neighbors in Madison County so that we can serve them at Procter. I attended a Town Hall meeting on drug addiction and learned first-hand the toll that it is taking on the citizens and ultimately the children in our community. We have reached out to offer the camp experience to children who have lost a parent to drug addiction. These will not be our first campers with this experience.
This message was recently shared with us as we work with congregations to make sure that we can get kids to camp: “These poor kids live on the edge. They are children who come to our free community dinner. Their mother died of a drug overdose and they are cared for by their 70-year-old grandmother who lives on Social Security. Last year as I understand it, [campers name] went to Procter for the first time. It turned his life around, according to his grandmother. He went (to camp) hardly speaking and withdrawn. He came back smiling, talking and playing. She called it a miracle.” He’s returning this summer with three siblings.
There is goodness all around us. We welcome each of you to come and experience the joy of God’s love at Procter.
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Amy Boyd serves as Executive Director at Procter Center. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.