Jessica and her mother never had a permanent mailing address. Jessica’s father abused her mom, whose lack of education made it impossible to find substantive employment. As a result, the two of them—mother and daughter—moved from one city to another, from one state to another, running away from abuse. On a hot summer day, they came into our local Lutheran Social Service Center to receive emergency assistance—just trying to make it through another miserable week. This was a common occurrence for them: getting out of their car that was barely running, walking into a room full of strangers, who appeared as stressed and poor as they were, and hoping there would be some food, clothes and personal hygiene items they could take as their own. If they were lucky, there might be a washer and dryer so they could clean their clothes, and if really fortunate, perhaps a shower, as well.
The LSS volunteer made certain the mother received the items she requested, and while that was taking place, a social worker struck up a conversation with Jessica. They talked about how long the teenager and her mom had been driving around homeless, the situation that brought it about, and how the young woman was handling the terrifying situation.
Jessica was not expecting anyone simply to engage her in such a caring and personal way. She was shocked by the next question: What are your plans for the future? There were no plans. Jessica had more fear of the present than she had dreams for the future.
LSS Steps In
The social worker referred mother and daughter to a nearby women’s shelter where they could spend a few days. She also told Jessica about an agency that specializes in meeting the unique needs of homeless teenagers. We were not able to eliminate her entire struggle, but we did give what we could and guided her in a positive direction.
LSS encounters broken family units every day; just like Jessica and her mother. We EMBRACE them in their trauma and actively listen to their story. We EQUIP them with the items, services, resources and networking available to them, so they can take the next step of their journey toward something positive. and stable. But our ultimate goal is to assist them in creating the security, focus and confidence that is necessary so they can EMPOWER their own lives, and lean into God’s promise of peace, hope and love for each of them.