By Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman
As the calendar turns to a new season, and the end of another school year, I am thinking of students. I’m thinking of the ones celebrating graduations and what comes next with all the excitement, uncertainty and courage that entails. And I’m thinking of the ones who have just finished their first year at a new school– Elementary school, middle school, college -- and know now that they are going to be OK in that place. And all the ones who got through it, but dread going back in the fall. I’m thinking of the students whose families are able to nurture and sustain them through all their changes, challenges, and triumphs, and the students whose families have been overwhelmed by one stress or another and have left them unaccompanied.
I have spent my whole life both housed, and accompanied, living with or at least close by attentive family or the kind of friends who become family. I have trouble even beginning to imagine what it is like to be a minor who is both houseless and unaccompanied, and the kind of courage and resilience it would take not to give up on oneself.
Unaccompanied. It’s such a clinical word. What these young people are is alone. Unsheltered. Unguarded in the world, with no one to remember that today is their day for play tryouts, or the big math test. No one to say, “you’re doing it! I’m so proud of you!” No one to make sure that they eat well. No one to listen to the story of their adventures at the end of each day, then remind them to get some sleep. And no place to sleep that is just theirs, for sure, every night, safe and warm and protected.
On May 21, 2023 we had the joy of hearing Frances King, a Student Support Coordinator from Second Home, preach for us and share the work that Second Home is doing to support such unaccompanied high school students. Second Home’s primary goal is to get unhoused students into homes while they finish high school. It may be that there are some in the congregation or community for whom this would be a perfect way to give.
If you don’t have space or capacity to offer housing, there are other ways to support students in the program: Becoming part of a “Student Support Team,” sending holiday and birthday cards and attending school events; donating money toward special student expenses such as proms, graduation events and college application fees; provide a student with a cell phone; help locate jobs or internships for students.
I know how many ways the members of our Kairos community already serve and give – and how generously you all donated to Second Home last month. We can add our prayers to the work of Second Home and let Frances’ sermon and conversation remind us that the whole of the gospel is love. We can begin each day with the joyful question “who you are giving me to love today?” and a prayer that the Spirit will keep our minds and hearts open to the love that is being offered to us.