Everyone Deserves Love
It is estimated that more than 153 million children around the world are homeless and in poverty, with 15.5 million, or approximately 21 percent in the U.S., suffering through no fault of their own, living on the streets, destined to be in institutional settings and devoid of loving care and without purpose.
Here’s more bad news: the city of Cincinnati, Ohio ranks No. 2 in the entire United States in the number of children living in poverty. Twenty percent of the Cincinnati homeless are children. The city has a childhood poverty rate of 53.01 percent. That means that without help, every other child in this city doesn’t have enough to eat, clothing to wear and/or a place to live.
Children living on the streets are vulnerable to being victimized, exploited and abused with no civil or economic rights. Children who have no home except the streets move from place to place, living in shelters and abandoned buildings, displaced due to poverty, sexual or physical abuse, forced to live a nomadic life.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF POVERTY, HOMELESSNESS AND THE STREET LIFE
ON THESE CHILDREN?
Children who are vulnerable to street life include those that have been abandoned by their families or sent into cities because of their families’ intense poverty, often with hopes that the child will earn an income, sometimes from prostitution and/or selling drugs. Either way, the level of dysfunction in these children’s lives leads to, in most cases, severe mental and behavioral dysfunction.
Poverty and homelessness are extremely detrimental to these children. The lack of medical care and an unstable and abusive lifestyle makes them susceptible to critical illnesses such as sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections and other chronic illnesses. Often scavenging to find food, these children have no protection and no hope, continuously facing mental challenges and behavioral issues that impact them for the rest of their lives. And, more than anything, they lack being loved.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD
I was running in Sharon Woods Park recently. Just in front of me I saw this little boy, maybe 3 years old, running right at me, with his grandmother in tow. I thought he was going to stop, but he jumped right into my arms, laughing and smiling ear to ear. His grandmother was apologetic, but it made my day.
This child was so happy, so carefree and so quick to show love. I thought, “What if every child was that happy?” The dictionary defines a happy child as a child who feels pleasure and enjoyment because of his or her life. A child who is joyful and secure, smiles because he or she feels loved and cared for.
Every child deserves a champion. St Aloysius Orphanage is that champion. Our generous volunteers, committed staff and compassionate donors, make healing possible. For 183 years, St. Aloysius has served struggling children and families. It has evolved through the years to meet the changing needs of the community.
St. Aloysius offers mental health services that include school-based and home-based therapy, partial hospitalization programs, outpatient treatment, forensic services, foster care and professional development and organizational training.
St. Aloysius touches the lives of more than 18,000 children each year. Eighty percent of our children have multiple diagnoses. Sixty-nine percent of children entering our Education Center are reading two to three grade levels behind the national average. Eighty percent of our therapeutic foster children successfully transition into their foster care homes. One hundred percent of the St. Aloysius child population served in Hamilton County live below the federal poverty level in urban communities. Seventeen percent of the children served in our Education Center are nonreaders. More than 600 unique individuals receive medication, evaluation and management services each month through our freestanding Med Som Clinics. More than 8,300 calls are handled each year through our 24-hour National Crisis Hotline and one out of 10 Mental Health Forensic Programs in the State of Ohio are a part of St. Aloysius services and are utilized by
THE NEED IS GREAT
At St. Aloysius, it is our passion to make healing possible. Our diversification, both in programming and sources of funding, supports long-term sustainability of the organization. However, as the need to grow provide care and services to more children, families and adults throughout the community, we need your help.
For anyone meeting a challenge in their life, like trauma, the loss of a family member, a learning disability, addiction, neglect, homelessness or abuse, they must first overcome despair. For us to be able to educate children, we must first get them healthy, and then provide them HOPE. Then, and not until then, we can teach. St. Aloysius is a family that will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to help the children, families and adults in our care overcome life’s challenges and rebuild their lives. You can be a part of real, lasting change.
ARE WE MAKING PROGRESS?
Our capacity as human beings is unfathomable. We have an extraordinary ability to improve and change. But to improve, we need to look beyond our past. There comes a time when we come to the realization as adults, that something is wrong. Different circumstances awaken this sense in different people at different times. One of our goals at St. Aloysius is to help children learn early on, helping with their situation, and providing the educational tools so that they can begin to understand that where they are now is not where they have to be forever. They learn they are born to do so much more and become so much more. Eighty-five percent of our children are successfully transitioned back into their home school districts. Are we making progress? YES. Is there so much more work to be done? Just look at the horrific statistics. The plight of homeless adults begins with our homeless children, because those adults were once children.
There are no solid answers to solving these challenges. However, we must begin somewhere. At St. Aloysius Orphanage Foundation we are successfully making a difference and changing lives. You can become a part of real, lasting change we bring to the lives of children and adults in our neighborhoods.
For more information or to learn how you can give, please contact me, Thomas Courtney. St. Aloysius is a place where we are inspiring hope. And, we are transforming lives.
Statistics from the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, the Ohio Poverty Report and St. Aloysius Orphanage Foundation.
To learn more about St. Aloysius Orphanage or to speak with Thomas Courtney, St. Aloysius’ Chief People Person, contact him at 513.242.7600 ext. 4307, email TCourtney@stalsorphanage.org or visit their website at www.staloysiuscincinnati.org.