A Brand New Day


A handful of the kids we first met recognized my car in front of the Y. I told them I needed some talented artists to help me paint this beautiful building.

"This building?!" They said, "with its windows boarded up, dark walls, and lumpy floors? It's ugly!"

My answer was, "If you don't like it in here, why do you always break the windows to get in?"

They smiled and we all began to paint.

I didn't know if they would take this job seriously so we started in the downstairs hallways and bathrooms. This was the area that was always vandalized after they broke in. They chose the colors and the things they wanted to paint. Their only rules were: nothing dark, evil, or scary. No graffiti. ONLY HAPPINESS in soft but bright colors allowed.

During this liberating time they smiled, cracked jokes, asked questions about life, love, and why was I being so good to them.

I said, "I'm not really that good to you. I'm just the way you are supposed to be. You are to treat each other like you want to be treated. No one wants to be called stupid, or insulted for any reason. Each of you is special... A promise... A possibility! God made you, uniquely YOU... With gifts you haven't even explored yet."

We put on a Bill Gaither record called "You're a Promise. A Possibility." They made fun of that album but they constantly played it. Another favorite on the album was, "Plenty of Room in the Family" and our Y family was growing day by day. The only rewards they received were that they were allowed in the "Y", we all ate together, and after cleaning up they were allowed in the pool.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR LIVES THEY FELT SPECIAL.

I told them, "Society may tell you, 'You are nothing, you are a piece of garbage.' But God tells you, 'you are special.'. Who you believe is what you become. And by the way, God doesn't make junk. Just like this old building, we each need a little TLC."

That was something most of them never received. They didn't even know what it meant. In fact the first few times we went to hug and kiss them hello or good bye they would stiffen up or back away, one of the many signs of abuse. One boy named Harry yelled at me "Don't you touch me! Don't you ever touch me!" A sure sign of abuse... I learned to ask if it was all right for me to hug or kiss them. In fact, I would say, "Who needs a hug today?" They would reply, "I DO! I DO!"

What a change in such a short time!

One night Harry got in my car to help me look for a boy who had disappeared after a huge blowout with his parents. They were on drugs and he was worried because his little sister had nothing to eat, the parents had traded food stamps for drugs. We did find him, and we told him that he never had to worry about his sisters and brothers having something to eat. He could bring them to the Y and they could eat with us. I told them God would supply and He did!

Like the story of Loaves and Fishes, or the children's story of Stone Soup, we never ran out of food. In fact, one day a teacher said to me, 'I've been slicing this cheese for weeks, and we still have the same amount; the same goes for the ham, turkey and salami! The only thing we have to make everyday is the huge pot of soup, and some bread."

Home cooked meals, (we served breakfast too,) a safe place to go, people who cared about you, clean clothes, and hugs... Even Harry got kisses and hugs...WOW!

Watch out world, here we come!

Carole Devecka God Given Daisies CaroleDevecka@comcast.net  

To see the first story in this series: These Are My Children

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