I sit here staring at the computer screen trying to get my thoughts together on how to express the experience that I had today. I want to be able to share my thoughts and feelings without turning this entry into an infomercial. Here I go.
This morning I had my tour of the Barium Springs Home for Children - the "orphanage" that I want to make the bibs and blankets for. I was excited and eager to see the "orphanage" and to learn all that I could about the place. But I was also nervous that I might leave disappointed for some unexpected reason. Thankfully that did not happen.
You're probably wondering why I put the word orphanage in quotations? That would be because the orphanage is no longer an orphanage!
That was the first thing that I learned on the tour. Apparently it is one of the biggest misconceptions of the place. Yes, many many years ago it was an orphanage but as the needs of the orphanage changed so did the services they provided. Initially I was disappointed - here I am dedicating my time to recruit others to help me make things to contribute to an orphanage that really isn't an orphanage anymore? But my disappointment was quickly diminished as I learned more about the home, the services they offer, the needs that they have, and of course when I learned about the children that they assist.
So if Barium Springs isn't an orphanage what is it? I was told a "group home" or a "day treatment center." Yes, there are children than live there but there is so much more the home than just that. The Barium Springs Home for Children provides:
1) Residential services - including day treatment and foster care;
2) Early childhood education - including training and consulting;
3) Alternative education - including day treatment and Spring Academy;
4) Community-based services - including clinical services and child services support; and a
5) Campus Ministry
So does this change anything for me or the direction that I want to go with the 1000 bibs and blankets? No. Not at all. If anything it makes me want to do even more. But what more can we do?
While on the tour I was able to meet so many people that play an important part of the daily lives of the children there. Administrators, directors, teachers, daycare providers, chaplain, and even the Sheriff. I asked several of them their opinion on what the kids needed - things that the community could help provide. Of course I was asking this question as a general question but I was also trying to figure out what craftsters could do to help. In addition to the items on the "needs list" some of the things that we can make for them include:
1) blankets for the children's cots;
2) twin sheets/blankets for the beds in the group home; and
They are ALWAYS in need. But just as situations change, their needs change.
I left the home feeling inspired but quite overwhelmed. It was a lot of information to process - good information but nevertheless a lot of it. I still want to move forward with the bibs and blankets....and I hope others do too!
(ETA: If there are no orphan babies staying at the home you may wonder who will receive the bibs. The bibs would be used in the daycare center as well as given to foster babies and their foster parents. Apparently (but understandably) there is also a great need to help out grandparents that due to the economy find themselves now taking care of their grandchildren. If the home has no use for items (which is rare) they find people that are in need of them. Nothing goes to waste.)