In the sports arena, there are endless conversations concerning who is the “GOAT” or the greatest of all time. In basketball, we usually end up with Jordan versus James. In football, there is one name that dominates – Tom Brady. This same conversation is held in all sports. There are many factors in being considered the GOAT, but one consideration that always enters the argument is, who got the most MVP awards?
Who are our MVPs at CK Family Services? Well, we have lots of heroes around. We have folks who have poured themselves out for kids for decades. We have champions that have entered brave new worlds and created programs for the betterment of children and families. We have foster and adoptive families that have lit the flames of hope and spoken life into kids whose future was bleak. We have patrons who have helped us help others. However, with all these heroes around, our MVPs are easy to identify – they are our children and families. They are not most valuable because they are most powerful or most impactful. They are not most valuable because they are most capable or charismatic. They are most valuable because they are the reason we exist. They are the MVPs because they are our mission:
We are people united through God to enhance the physical,
emotional, and spiritual well-being of at-risk children and families.
So, as we pursue our mission, what are some things we can remember about our MVPs?
First, they are loved by God, and that should get our attention. When we meet a child that appears incorrigible and has experienced failure after failure and disappointment after disappointment, keep in mind that the same child has likely been in a fight for survival that required Spartan endurance and demanded a resilience that most of us have never known. Their behavior is likely based on the fact that they have had little energy for anything but getting through another day. See them as what they are – champions of survival, who, with our assistance, can become champions in life.
Also, remember that trauma is real. These beautiful children have had to face ugliness that should not exist – yet it does. The trauma landed them in toxic stress and made fight or flight their only perceived options. The move them from toxic stress to resiliency and hope can be facilitated by the actions of one supportive and loving, determined individual. Just imagine the power of a TEAM coming together for the good of the child and family. Love them when they are unlovable. Like them when they are unlikable. When they push you down, get up. Let us make sure that our love outlasts their anger and hurt. When the dust settles, be there. Be their champion.Finally, remember the holidays are approaching. I love this time of year. I still believe in Santa Claus. I love lights and trees and ornaments. What could be more fun than to eat at Campo Verde, dripping with gaudy Christmas lights, and then visit Decorators Warehouse? But, for many of our children, Christmas is the worst time of year. For some kids, the holidays are a loud reminder that life is not fair and there is a big difference in the haves and have-nots. Years ago, I was working with a large group of elementary school boys. These kids were highly at-risk and were all way below the poverty level. I loved those little guys. On one visit, a second-grader asked me if there really was a “Sandy Claus?” Before I could answer, a fifth-grader who carried a chip on his shoulder responded:
“Naw, there ain’t no Sandy Claus. If there is, he ain’t right. He only goes to rich folks’ houses. There’s only moms and dads. If they got money, you get something. If they ain’t got money, then Christmas is nothin. There is not no Sandy Claus.”
May we all remember to be kinder and gentler. May we all watch our words and remember that some verbiage comes with a razor-sharp edge. May we see our children and families through the lenses of love and compassion and may we seek to make life better for our heroes, our MVPs, our kids and families.