Power in the Small Things

12-sept-oct-TP-soldier-web

As Jordan DeBruhl, a soldier in the U.S. Army stationed in Conn Barracks, Germany, sits in his barracks at night wondering what the next day will bring, children in STARRY’s SAFE program and Emergency Shelter are doing the exact same thing.

Though Jordan and the children are a world apart, they relate to each other in many ways.

Little did SAFE Program Supervisor Toniya Parker know when she and her team chose to adopt Jordan through the “Adopt-A-Soldier” program that the children would have an outlet to be the encouragers instead of the ones being encouraged.

“Keep your head up and stay strong,” one child wrote, “and once again thanks for fighting for us. It gives kids like me, that lost everything, hope for us to still go on. I wish you and your family the best in life.”

“The kids get to encourage someone else,” Toniya says. “They understand being taken away from family and still having hope.”

As a requirement for the federal grant that funds the SAFE program for runaway and homeless youth, the children needed a community service and life skills project that fits within the average 21 days that the kids stay in the Emergency Shelter.

SAFE Interns Bernadette Mendoza and Cheyenne Radcliff researched the Adopt-A-Soldier program after the program’s Youth Advisory Board showed an interest in providing care packages for soldiers. They officially adopted Jordan with the intent to send letters every two weeks and a care package every month, and to give the children at the Shelter a chance to participate.

The schedule allows each child the opportunity to write a letter or draw a picture or otherwise contribute to at least one care package.

“All of the children are super excited. They are interested in who he is. What is his name? Does he have a family?” says Toniya. Luckily, the Adopt-A-Soldier program gives an information sheet about the soldier, so the kids are able to learn what Jordan likes, his family and what he has access to overseas.

Evidence of the impact of the program on the children can already be seen. In addition to being able to show encouragement, the SAFE and Shelter children understand the power in the small things – for them, it’s a kind word from SAFE counselors or clean clothes in the Shelter; for Jordan, it’s a heartfelt letter or scribbled drawing that simply means someone is thinking of him.

“We understand that the little things can make it easier,” Toniya notes. As more children are blessed by STARRY’s SAFE program and the Emergency Shelter, Jordan will continue to be blessed by each little note and care package sent his way.