Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flowers on Main Street and Troubled Families

My morning stroll took me along Main Street this morning. The flowers were so beautiful. Our little town in renown for it's summer petunias which grow in planters the full length of Main Street and then some. I love them! They put such a welcoming face on our community. They show us for who we are. Their presence and freshness every year represent dedication to our values and commitment to our standards. They welcome residents and visitors alike to our special part of the world.

Sweetie and I have traveled extensively across the US and Canada and have never seen anything to rival this. We've driven down a lot of main streets in cities much more affluent that ours and never seen Vernal's equal. Many have more natural beauty, more magnificent architecture, more appealing attractions than Vernal, Utah, but none of them put out the welcome mat like we do. I think everyone reads that message loud and clear as they witness the floral abundance that is our greeting card.

As I walked today I had to resolve an issue in my mind. I struggled with it. I prayed about it. And I feel I got my answer. You see, I've complained about the flowers on Main Street. While I love them, I've been concerned about another issue, whose priority exceeds the need for our floral show piece.

Last year, due to severe budget constrictions, The State of Utah discontinued funding for the local Shelter and Receiving Center. This facility had been located in, but not part of, the youth detention facility where I have been a volunteer for the past seven years. During the years the Shelter was open I volunteered there as well. There I found young people who were being lovingly cared for after their parents had been arrested. There were others who were struggling with a foster care situation and needed a breather from that new, stressful and unfamiliar environment. There were kids who'd had a blow up with their own folks and both child and parent needed a "time out" and some counselling. These kids weren't criminals. They and their parents just needed some help. The Shelter provided that help in a safe, loving and productive environment.

Now, we have no Shelter in our Uintah Basin Communities. The need remains acute, but the service is gone. Too many of these sweet children are now winding up in Detention where they don't belong. Officials and parents, foster parents and others, too often, have no other recourse. They can't be left to run, unsupervised, unparented, alone.

As I prayed this morning I was struggling with this issue. Every time I see the flowers on Main Street I am reminded of these precious children, who, through no fault of their own, have been neglected, left untended, or have even been uprooted. My prayer was answered in a note on Facebook. A good friend called my attention to a local Pepsi Refresh Project candidate. My friend Joslin Batty and some others from the local youth corrections facility have proposed the creation of a Shelter and are in the running for $250,000.00 gift from Pepsi to help establish that dream. Here is their video:
I am so pleased to make this discovery and so thrilled to have the chance to lend them my encouragement. Their efforts and this timely discovery are truly an answer to my prayers. Please help with this worthy project by going to Pepsi Refresh and voting for this dream, so it can become a reality!

I have watched Joslin and Patrick and Teri and many others and know of their deep love and concern for these wonderful children. Won't you please get behind them and help them help those is such desperate need?

As I said, I love the flowers on Main Street. I hope we never neglect them. I love our children even more and hope we don't neglect them either. They are too precious to be ignored. I hope and pray they are given their Pepsi grant. But, make no mistake, while $250K will take them a long way toward their goal, it won't be an on going resource. I've never quite understood why Juvenile Justice and the Detention Center are State agencies, while the Jail is operated by the County. I'm sure it wont be easy for our cash strapped communities to allocate the much need resources that will be required to sustain the Shelter. I'm sure it will be a temptation for them to say, that's somebody else's responsibility. Well, nobody else is stepping up to the plate. So, I am calling upon our City, County, religious and civic leaders as well as philanthropists and corporations to stand up and take hold of this most pressing need. These are our children, they belong to our community. Let's help them to bloom where they are planted!

The Flowers On Main Street represent how we are.  The Children In Our Homes reflect how we are.  Let's not let the flowers be a mere facade concealing a lie.

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