Skip to the main content.
Donate Need help?
Donate Need help?

2 min read

Shelter Life...A Child's Perspective

By Ellen Presley, former House Manager at the Crisis Shelter for Women and Children

They brush their teeth, do their homework, eat dinner, do chores, and play just like any other kid. The only difference...they're living in a homeless shelter.

One interesting, sad, yet thought-provoking perspective from a 12-year-old recently interviewed: "When I'm older and homeless..." A very real and honest perception. Children who are homeless just assume they will always be homeless.

"I hear negative stuff, so I think negative stuff."  When children hear their moms and other women at the shelter talk about what life situations brought them to the shelter, that becomes their reality.teen small

"My mom cried all the time, so we had to leave our home and come to this shelter."  When asked how her mom was doing now, the child replied, "I don't know. She seems happy, at least, she doesn't cry so much."

Some other comments from children regarding shelter life:

"I like the stability of the schedule here because it makes me feel comfortable."

"It's easier to get my homework done because there are people to help me, and besides, there's nothing else to do."

"I learned how to ride a bike...without training wheels."

"At least there are other kids to play games with when I get bored."

"My mom called it camping when we were actually living in our car. It was kinda fun."

Children at the shelter are extremely resilient and often appear to be stronger than their parents. Recently, a 14- year-old boy at the shelter calmed his mother down as she was screaming at another resident over a perceived slight. The boy told his mom she was scaring her two younger daughters, and if she didn't cool it, they all might have to leave the shelter.

It's not always easy for the kids. Another 14-year-old boy tried to run back to his old home in another state. When he was caught and returned to his mom at the shelter, he threatened to hurt himself. Fortunately, a staff member was able to intervene and talk him down from his extremely agitated and self-destructive state of mind. The staff member let him vent and showed him how many people love and care about him.

But that is the exception. When asked if they feel any different from the other kids at school, here are what some of the kids said:

"No, not really, I just can't have my friends spend the night."

"I think I get free food at school...it's pretty good."

"I like Homework Club at the shelter and especially the staff and the people who help me. They're fun...and I like having my homework done on time!"

 

child2 small

We offer what we can to make shelter life as normal as possible for our kids.  They seem to like being in a warm, safe, loving environment. They see their moms more relaxed. And even though being in a shelter might not be ideal, it's the first time in a long time that many of these kids have had any semblance of stability and some sort of "family" life. Isn't that what all kids crave?

UGM understands that breaking the "cycle of homelessness” frequently starts with the services provided to kids and their moms at the Crisis Shelter for Women and Children.

Give kids and their moms the services they need - food, shelter, and more.  

 New Call-to-action

Rebuilding A Life: Brenda’s story of resilience and hope

3 min read

Rebuilding A Life: Brenda’s story of resilience and hope

Many individuals we serve have endured significant losses. How can someone rebuild their life when they lack the resources and emotional strength to...

Read More
Honoring Mothers in Recovery

4 min read

Honoring Mothers in Recovery

The 18 to 24-month-long UGM Life Recovery program requires vulnerability, persistence, and commitment from the men and women who participate....

Read More
UGM Camp: The lasting impact of faith and friendships

4 min read

UGM Camp: The lasting impact of faith and friendships

Preparing for UGM Camp The 2024 UGM Camp season will be here soon, and we are prepping in anticipation of all the children who are about to be...

Read More
A Heart for Children

A Heart for Children

Lois used to be a kindergarten teacher. That probably says it all. Lois loves kids. Her husband, Everett, loved children, too. The couple lived life...

Read More
Sharing Jesus with Children

Sharing Jesus with Children

Volunteer Michaelyn Hodges has a heart for sharing Jesus with the children coming to UGM. She recently answered some of our questions and...

Read More
The Five C's of Children's Recovery

The Five C's of Children's Recovery

“Stay consistent in their lives, even when they’re the hardest to love.” That, in a nutshell, is the key to caring for the children living with...

Read More