"Adam was the smallest boy in his 5th grade class. He got picked on and called names, like 'shrimp' and 'shorty', he had learned to ignore the taunts and walk away; but after he was molested by his stepfather and had to talk to the police, he was sure that everyone would know what had happened to him, the teasing for that would be unbearable. Adam had been hoping to start middle school with a growth spurt and new friends, he just wanted to fit in, but that didn’t seem possible now; and now that his stepfather had been arrested, there was no money for school supplies or a new backpack.
Adam loved his old Spider Man backpack, but he knew that no one was else in middle school would carry one this year. It would be one more reason to tease him. He dreaded the start of school. But when and his Mom were invited to the Houston Area Women’s Center 'Back to School Project', Adam saw hundreds of backpacks laid out before him – every color, size and design you could hope for! For a moment, Adam felt like a normal kid. After much deliberation, he chose a black backpack with a Nike swoosh, no one would make fun of Nike. He was learning from his counselor that what happened to him was not his fault and that no one could tell by looking at him that he had been abused. He was learning about the court process and the importance of his testimony from his court advocate. And he was beginning to think that he might make some new friends at his new school. Plus, he grew two inches over the summer! Things were definitely looking up!"
"Back to School Project" Testimonial, Houston Area Women's Center
School is barely out and the summer has just officially started, but the Houston Area Women's Center (HAWC) is already preparing for the start of a new school year through their annual "Back to School Project", in which new backpacks and new school supplies are distributed to the 1,200 or so children served by HAWC.
|Piece by Piece, Child by Child.|
The children in HAWC's program have experienced sexual abuse, exploitation, domestic violence, or have been witness to such crimes, and it is the mission of the "Back to School Project" to equip them not only with new, much needed school supplies, but also with excitement, confidence, joy, and perhaps even a return to innocence.
Planning for the "Project" is a continuous and lengthy process, as soon as the current year's "Project" ends, next year's "Project" begins. The planning committee consists of a very spirited group of HAWC staff members and volunteers, led by Pam Hobbs, manager of the Children's Court Services Program. Every year the "Project" is announced at a lunch attended by selected business and individuals, some of them new to HAWC's mission, and some of them veterans in their pledge to assist HAWC gather the supplies or the funds to purchase them.
|The pledge puzzle becomes larger.|
I have been a member of the planning committee for a few years now, but this was my first time attending the lunch, in which HAWC's president and CEO Rebecca White reminded us of the joy of our first day of school, and the fortune of never lacking,
|HAWC president and CEO "I remember my first day of school".|
long time volunteer Mary Moore urged us to donate our time and resources to a cause that really makes a difference in people's lives,
|Mary Moore's call to action.|
and Pam Hobbs, director of Children's Court Services recounted Sophie's story of sexual abuse and healing.
|Pam Hobbs recounts Sophie's story.|
Domestic and sexual violence teaches very difficult life lessons; in its dedication to helping survivors cope and heal from such traumatic events, the Women’s Center addresses each child’s (about 1,200 of them) concerns to be “normal” again and to fit in with their peers. To learn how you can donate time and resources to the 2012 "Back to School Project"contact Pam Hobbs at 713-528-6798 before the August 8th deadline or make a donation online at HAWC Back to School 2012
|Piece by Piece.|
|Child by Child.|
Many thanks to The Houston Area Women's Center for letting me be a part of this most worthy of causes. All images by Nadia Palacios Lauterbach.