I get out of my car, and a 6th grade boy runs across the side lot, yelling, “Miss Becky!” He runs to me, gives me a side hug and says he is great. He isn’t kidding. He is intelligent, clever, and having fun on this August evening. He is waiting for his computer teacher to arrive at HHD. And he truly is great.
A sweet shy little girl, walks toward me, stops, eyes averted, waiting to be noticed. I hug her, say her name, ask how she is. Today she is fine. She is going into first grade and has done a great job at Read Around the Block. She is precious.
Teens are sitting under the pavilion at the picnic tables, talking, probably flirting. There was a time when I didn’t know if teen girls would ever come to Hope House. The basketball goal assured us of guys, but not so much the girls. But now… the café, the job training program, the girls’ club and Bible study, the great staff and volunteers make Hope House a place the teen girls can feel at home. I take out Teen Leadership Council applications to the teens under the pavilion. They laugh and joke with me, say they’ll fill them out.
A wiry little boy going into 2nd grade runs over for a hug. He has just noticed I’ve arrived. He giggles and squirms and runs on. He smiles.
I introduce myself to guys waiting for a turn to play basketball. They are new to Hope House this summer. We share the awkward: hello, what’s your name, do you stay around here, where do you go to school? They are from 4-5 blocks away, further than our usual kids. They are polite, and I am touched to know them.
A moment with a young adult volunteer about his fall plans.
Several volunteers are watching kids, talking to kids, advising kids.
“He-e-ey, Miss Becky!” A couple of girls are sitting by the back door. I ask about the book one is reading. There is a discussion of it with several girls. Laughter, opinion, strong opinion about the book. “When do you leave for college?”
The computer teacher arrives with pizza. His high school class is larger this week, probably because of the pizza! ☺
The staff in the house has just finished their shift outside with children/youth playing. Remarkably our neighbor has brought over authentic Asian food cooked over an open fire for dinner. Young adult staff are eating this treat, talking, preparing for the evening’s meeting. They are amazing young people, digging deep for the Kingdom, for the kids, for the summer. They and the computer teacher and the volunteers are giving their all.
Our goals this summer were for the kids to feel known, to feel loved, and to have fun.
In my 8th summer at Hope House, my heart is overcome because, wait! I am feeling known; I am feeling loved; I am having fun! I am privileged to see God multitasking. I am getting hugged. I am enjoying sweet conversation and community with kids and teens and neighbors and volunteers (who are sometimes also neighbors) and staff. It is more than I deserve. It is more than I ever asked or imagined. And what our young staff, the playing kids, the volunteers, and neighbors may not yet know is that the divine mutual blessing, this communal sharing of life will fill the hearts of us all as we share this evening and this life together.
-Becky Gentry (Director of Hope House Detroit)