Recently, I ran into one of our kids, a young lady who was in our Supervised Independent Living group home program several years ago. This was a program that helped older adolescents prepare for adulthood. I had not seen her in years and was thrilled to run into her. She looked beautiful and told me all about how she was doing. She is in her thirties (I could not believe it), working full time, and living on her own. She helps support a sibling who is having some hard times. She told me how grateful she was to have been in our program, how much it had helped her and taught her. She said she would not be where she is today without it. She told me how, back then, she just kept running away and running away until she was finally placed in our program because she so much wanted to be there. She believed it was her chance to have a better life. I let her know how immensely proud I was of her and what a joy it was for me to see her and to see how well she was doing. I gave her a big hug and we went our separate ways.
We have a saying here at Cray – Once a Cray Kid, Always a Cray Kid. Well, it is really not just a saying. We carry the children that we serve in our hearts. We celebrate their successes and continue to provide support when times get tough for them regardless of their age. They are our family.
Today, due to state budget cuts, the Supervised Independent Living group home program no longer exists. Children have no choices as to the family they are born into; and unfortunately, many of the programs that have helped support those kids who got the short end of the stick have been eliminated. The cost to society for this failure to support our most vulnerable citizens will, in the long run, be so much greater than any monies saved. Providing support that helps children grow into healthy, productive citizens is an investment in our future. What better investment could we make?