In this period of political rancor it’s easy to forget those who are most often ignored. It’s easy to forget how blessed you are. Easy to distance yourself from the reality that kids often aren’t just hungry or alone – they’re without parents who care or altogether without families. Sometimes kids have suffered such severe abuse that they require inpatient treatment.
Often they truly need extra love and support.
That’s where Brooklawn comes into play.
The facility – home to 126 boys and girls aged five through 18 – supports youth suffering from the lasting effects of severe abuse and neglect. Brooklawn provides comprehensive care, treatment and education our kids need to overcome their traumatic pasts. With the assistance of the organization, most go on to live successful lives. There’s no denying everybody deserves just such an opportunity.
I’ve tried for a few weeks to decide just how to present Brooklawn to our readership and how to ask for support. There are many ways to help and volunteer. I encourage you to get directly involved.
Beyond that, though, I really want you to know how rewarding it is to give back. I asked State Representative Joni Jenkins, a Brooklawn board member and volunteer, to tell me what she does with the organization and why her work matters to her:
As a tutor, once a week I spend 30 minutes or more with my 12-year-old student. We read books, do homework, play Skittle Math, play games and sometimes just talk. He is a remarkable young man who has many challenges in his life. He tells me often how he wants to go home, but that he knows that’s probably not a good idea. While I grieve for his loss of his family, I am so thankful that he is in this very special place that will help him heal and grow and meet all those challenges.
For the little that I have given, I have been given so much. After a really bad day in Frankfort, I often pull out the thank you letter that one of the residents sent to Santa (me). “Even though I really wasn’t good, you still brung me alot of gifts”.
Not sure Jenkins’ story could be any more succinct. It illustrates what a difference a few minutes per week can make in a child’s life. Particularly a child in need of a patient ear and some educational guidance.
Basics aside, I also wondered what we could do directly to support the kids at Brooklawn. My conversation with Jenkins covered quite a history of the organization and tugged all the appropriate heartstrings. But she said something that resonated with me on a more emotional level: “Brooklawn is still a place where kids can be kids.” And that – to me – may be the most important thing to remember. Playing sports, gardening, learning music, putting on talent shows and taking part in activities that leave lasting, happy memories of childhood are a big deal at Brooklawn.
So that’s where we’re going to help.
Thanks to Missy Fountain, Director of Community Involvement, we’ve got a list of “Summer Fun” items needed for a proper childhood. Buy up the following and take them to Brooklawn: hula hoops, water balloons, face painting supplies, sidewalk chalk, basketballs, Nerf balls, footballs, frisbees, bubbles, beach towels, beach balls, volleyballs, tennis balls, Badminton sets, large sponges, corn hole bags, golf balls, softball gloves, softballs, baseballs. Those are things we can all afford to purchase and deliver with relative immediacy.
Brooklawn’s also got something called the Reward Store. It’s designed to motivate kids by giving them the opportunity to use “Brooklawn Bucks” they earn for positive behavior to purchase toys, clothes, books and hygiene products. Here’s a list of current Store needs:
- Board games
- Hot Wheels
- Action figures
- Hygiene products like toothpaste, hair gel and deodorant
We can all help on that front, right? Call Missy at 502.515.0474 if you need additional information. And please get these items to Brooklawn. It’s a great opportunity to make a child’s life better with a bit of happiness.
You’ll thank yourself when it’s all said and done.