the ark

I wrote this blog on Hubpages while I was working at The Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for abused and neglected children. I worked there from 2006 to 2008, returned in 2009 till 2012. During those six years I got married had 4 more kids and gained a stepson so I was to the point where I was not able to work anymore. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had. I went by there for a visit the other day and it made me miss being there so much. I see the good there is in the community as the hallways are filled with donations for Christmas for the children. It warms my heart to see how we come together to help the children who are less fortunate.

So as this is an old blog it is still a good one. It was nominated and featured in the Hubnuggets newsletter and I got so many wonderful comments on how my blog inspired them.

April 1, 2011

I eat lunch with abused children every week!

Everyone can help!

I work at a shelter for abused children. I do not work directly with the children, although I have great respect for the ones who are there to take care of these children. Since I work in the back as we call it, I come to the front to sit at a long table, sometimes filled with kids, to have a good hearty lunch.

My work consists of filing the residents files and the bills, going to the grocery store to get WIC items, doing reports for the accountant, writing and mailing thank you letters to the ones who give us donations, being part of a committee that organizes a silent auction for the gala we have every year and a anything else that is asked of me to do. Sometimes I am asked to go to the front to help with the children when they are shorthanded on staff, but mostly I am in the back.

The statistics I will give are from what I get from the reports I have to give to the auditor or for grants that we apply for. In an average year we see about 250 abused children come through our doors. We are licensed to receive kids from Texas, so a majority of our children are from Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas. We have beds for 37 children. There are approximately at least 25 children per day at our facility and a majority of the time they are all under five years old. Can you imagine taking care of 15 new born babies and ten toddlers? We have a dedicated staff that cares for these children. They feed, bathe and play with these kids every day like any mother would do to their own children, but in this case the mothers of these children did not do these things with their own kids. They have done things so terrible that it is hard to believe.

I have seen kids with broken bones, from arms, femurs, legs, and ribs. Kids come to us with black eyes and bruises covering their bodies. Some have had chunks of their hair missing from it being pulled and parts of their ears ripped also from being pulled. We see newborns born who test positive for drugs come to us a day old from the hospital with heart monitors. Some of these kids have been sexually abused from a very young age and don’t even comprehend that it is wrong. They come from homes that are covered in animal feces, dirty diapers and trash. There is food that has been sitting on the counters for weeks, spoiled milk in the refrigerator and drug paraphernalia out where it is easily accessible to the children. These kids are malnourished and under-weight by a significant amount. They have burn marks from cigarettes and lighters. They haven’t had baths in weeks and their clothes are dirty and smell of urine or rotten milk.

Being a mother myself it is hard for me to believe that the mothers of these children allow this to happen. In some cases it is the mother who has done these horrible acts upon their own child, in others they allow for their husband or boyfriend to do these things. In almost every case the parents are involved with drugs from crack-cocaine to meth-amphetamines. There are stories that they have sold some of their children to people in Mexico for drug money and leave their kids without siblings, and some come to us, 12 brothers and sisters in all. They have lived in cars, or homes with no running water or electricity. They sleep on floors with rats and roaches. Their moms apply for food stamps just to trade them for drug money and other kids have never had a single immunization other than what the hospital gave them at the time of their birth, if they were even born in a hospital.

Now I have heard stories about how Child Protective Services is an awful organization. That they just take kids from parents for no reason at all, but in my experience CPS is a life saver to these children. CPS removes a child from a bad environment until a judge decides if they can go back home to their parents (after a drug test and a home inspection), or to a family member but in most cases it is to a foster home. I have even seen kids removed by CPS from a foster home as well, usually when they just want the money and not the responsibility to care for the child. When kids go to a foster home, they try to keep all the siblings together but it cannot always be that way and sometimes have to be separated.

So I sit with these kids four days a week in the dining area and eat breakfast and lunch with them. Some of them are so out of control and hard to handle from not having any supervision and some are so shy and afraid to even speak. Some cry that they miss their mommies and some seem like they are so happy to be away from them. If the child’s birthday comes while they are with us, we give them a little birthday party and a ton of gifts. Some have told us that they never even had a birthday party before.

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We try to make them feel as safe and comfortable as they can. Some adjust easily and others it takes time. It is sad because right when a child is just getting used to being with us a foster family is found and they have to leave, making them sad all over again and feeling no stability. Right now we can house the kids for three months and often can get an extension. We are in the process of trying to get a license for 55 beds. When that happens we will be keeping the children full term. They will have their own rooms and belongings. They will go to one school and not have to be moved around a lot. This will only be for kids who do not have any relatives to care for them or a foster home for them to go to, which we have seen that in the past, therefore needing extensions on their 90 days.

The community has become aware of our being but maybe only a quarter of it is aware. We have businesses and individuals who bring the children Christmas presents, Easter baskets, Valentines, school supplies, Halloween costumes and even prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner for them. We also get used items for us to put in a rummage sale, where the money goes back to the children. There are also those who donate money to us for utilities, groceries and other items that are needed. Some donate tickets to sporting events, carnivals and concerts too, which we enjoy taking the kids to events around the area. Others donate diapers, wipes, brand new clothes, and anything else that it takes to raise a child.

logan and santa

I feel truly honored to be a part of their team. I started work there in 2006 and enjoy that I can make a small difference in their life. It saddens me that these children live like this and have to be taken away from their families, but I am glad that there is a place for them to go to feel safe again. If you would like to help in any way you can (even $5 helps) visit their website for more information www.ark4kids.com. Child abuse is rising. Babies are being born to younger and younger mothers every day and there are more drugs becoming easily available every day. I hear others say we need to prevent child abuse, but I cannot think of a way to prevent it, all we can do is make a child’s life better once they have been abused and do everything we can to prevent it from happening again.

If you would like to donate please click here.

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