We often hear reminders on social media of the quote of the late Fred Rogers, “Look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping.” Today this quote made me think of a time when I saw those helpers in action here at Epworth. They were 4 teenage boys that live in one of our cottages.
One afternoon I was walking into our Administration Building and was met by a man at the front steps asking me for help. He said he needed money for food. It was a very hot afternoon, one of those days that the heat sucks the breath out of you. My immediate thought was that I needed to get this man off our property before he could interact with our youth on campus. This was right after school which is a time that our youth like to come up to the Administration Building to withdraw money from their individual accounts, to visit the vending machines, to see if they have mail, and to get candy from Rev. Holler. I knew they would be coming up in groups soon, so I needed to hurry to rush the man off our front steps.
I told the man I would be right back and asked him to please stay right there until I returned. I rushed into my office to grab a list of local resources for him, a bottle of water, and whatever food I could find. As I was coming down the hall one of our teenage boys rushed past me and I thought, “Oh, great, the kids are already up here.”
I return to the front steps and see 3 of our boys gathered around the man that is sitting on our steps and before I can say anything, the boy I passed in the hall comes out with a cup of water and immediately hands it to the man on the steps. The boys are asking him questions about himself and asking him what he needs. They express worry about him being out in the heat. This time it wasn’t the heat that sucked the breath out of me, it was their compassion. They saw a man in need, I saw an inconvenience.
These boys are here because of what others have done to them, not by any fault of their own. Despite the trials and tribulations that life has thrown at them at such an early age, they are still able to see light and life in others. Many factors contribute to resiliency so we at Epworth can’t take all the credit. However, one thing our direct care staff does every day that sometimes I take for granted until I witness it firsthand, is teach and model empathy. If we send out more helpers into the world, then we can rest on the knowledge that we have done something right.
Written by: Jessica Morehead Warble, LMSW