Caleb’s parents often argued and used vulgar language in front of their son. Over time they moved beyond verbal and emotional abuse, to physical abuse. When the authorities became involved, Caleb was removed from the home by the Department of Social Services and placed at Epworth.
As is often the case with children who are raised in abusive environments, Caleb’s behavior mirrored that of his parents. His aggressive behavior made it difficult for him to make friends in the cottage. In the months following his arrival, as new children moved into the cottage, he often belittled them and sabotaged any chance of making a new friend. Over the last year, with the help of his cottage staff and counselors, Caleb is starting to make strides in this area, and it is transforming his life and those around him.
Just the other day a new resident, James, moved in to Caleb’s cottage. That afternoon, Caleb came up to James and said, “Hey, come walk with me up to the main office and let’s see if we can find some candy.” The two boys came to the front office and politely asked for a piece of candy from Mrs. Schafer’s desk. They hung around for a few minutes looking through a stack of Pokémon cards, then Caleb looked up at the clock and said, “James, we’ve got to go. It’s almost five o’clock and I’ve got to show you how to get to the library.” James replied, “Go ahead without me, I want to keep looking at these cards.” To which Caleb quipped, “No man, you are coming with me. This is your first day, and I’m not going to let you get lost. Let’s go.”
That afternoon, Caleb carefully showed James around the campus. Since then he has continued to help James learn Epworth routines. Thanks to a year of modeling healthy behaviors and helping Caleb establish positive relationships, he now meets new friends with care and concern, instead of hostility.
As we enter into the season of giving thanks and of giving to others, we at Epworth give thanks for Caleb and his transformation over the last year. We give thanks that he is learning life skills that will serve to break the cycle of abuse in his life, and prepare him for a healthy future.