Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, “Home is the nicest word there is!” I wish this was true for everyone; but on any given day, more than 400,000 American children have no home to call their own. Think for a moment about “Home”--what that means to you and what it would be like if you had no place to call Home?
Home is not only a “nice word,” it is a powerful word, Charles Dickens put it this way, “Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than any magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, it evokes the strongest conjurations.” My grandmother’s home was adorned with a small ceramic plaque which read, “Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.” Home is far more than just shelter. A home is Safety, Stability, Connectivity and Independence; it is the catalyst for an explosion of growth, emotions and memories. There is no place like Home.
The unique, wonderful thing about Home is that it has a special meaning to each of us. Trying searching “What does Home mean to you…” on Google and you will be pleasantly delighted and entertained by people’s comments. There is a sublime, spiritual, almost sacred, essence contained in the individual expressions about Home.
Home is an essential element of life – and we need to ensure that everyone has one!
“Home” has emerged as a dominant theme within the Human Services field over the past few years. California recently passed AB 403 transforming the foster care system, diminishing the role of congregate care for children and youth, and placing a much greater emphasis on Home-Based care. Pending federal legislation would make a similar shift to Home-Based services. There have also been significant recent efforts across the country to end Homelessness. This is a fantastic advent; a long overdue paradigm shift for a number of reasons.
- A person’s home should always represent a place of Safety and Security.
It is a place where we feel protected and comfortable to be ourselves without intrusion or unwanted scrutiny. Home is a bastion of protection and a refuge from the physical and emotional elements which bombard our lives. Home is a place of retreat, a realm within a realm which is uniquely yours. A person or family with no Home is left as vulnerable prey for the unscrupulous and evil lurking in the shadows of our society. Home is a bulwark against oppression and abuse.
- Home is a citadel of Stability, an anchor in turbulent waters, and an incubator for Wellbeing.
Recent research substantially demonstrates that housing instability produces a plethora of physical and mental illness, especially for children and youth. Poor health, anxiety, depression, suicidality, isolation and withdrawal, plus poor work and/or school performance, is just a sampling. Home is synonymous with nurturing and caring, and a place for personal growth and healing. It is a place of respite and solace. Home is where family routines, rituals and traditions are born which help shape and mold our uniqueness. Home is where our values are developed and manifested.
- Home is a place of Congregation, of human Connectivity and Family.
Whether living alone and congregating with friends or being part of a family, Home is where people gather to interact and enjoy one another’s company. Humans are social beings who need companionship and human connection in order to survive. Home provides the ideal sanctuary and place for person-to-person interaction. It is also the place where individuals care for others, nurture others, instruct and learn from others within their personally designed sanctity and safety.
- Home is a symbol of Independence and Individuality.
There is so much exhilaration when an individual, group of friends, couple or family obtain their first Home. It makes no difference how humble or grandiose–it’s yours! A Home becomes one’s canvas to create a picture of who they are and what they like; it is an opportunity for individualized expression. Home means control. It becomes one’s dominion, responsibility and place of authority. Home provides a sense of “arriving” and achievement. It is a tangible, concrete goal and necessity of life obtained.
I feel extraordinarily privileged and blessed to be part of an organization which understands and values “Home,” and is in the business of providing healing Homes for traumatized children and youth, permanent Homes for children and youth through adoption, first Homes for youth transitioning out of the foster care system and affordable Homes for homeless families. Home – really is the place where Success Begins!