Giving thanks for a loving home
– November 19 2018
Giving thanks for a loving home
Barbara’s first day at SOS Children’s Villages was also her 17th birthday. It was the best birthday present, and an immense relief, to finally reunite with her brother, whom she hadn’t seen for months. It was also the day of the village's big Thanksgiving celebration.
A Story of Thanksgiving
by Rachel Taschenberger
Barbara stood at the microphone, waiting to introduce herself. She stared out at dozens of strangers, but there was one familiar face in the crowd.
“Hi, I’m Barbara,” she said quietly. “I’m 17 today.”
Scanning the audience, she caught her brother’s eye.
“This Thanksgiving, what I’m grateful for is seeing my brother,” she said, smiling.
The strangers smiled back and clapped. She felt welcomed by their warmth and sincerity. Though surrounded by people she had just met, she began to feel like she was home.
Finding refuge at SOS
Years later, Barbara vividly remembers the day her whole world changed for the better.
At 13 years old, Barbara was forced to leave Haiti—and her mother—behind. Amidst political turmoil, she and her three siblings sought political asylum in the U.S. and found shelter with their father in Florida. They were later removed by Child Protective Services, split up, and placed in foster care. Stressed and homesick, Barbara landed at an all-girls’ shelter, away from her beloved brother.
The shelter never felt like home. She missed her family.
Barbara’s first day at SOS Children’s Villages was also her 17th birthday. It was the best birthday present, and an immense relief, to finally reunite with her brother, whom she hadn’t seen for months.
A happy SOS Thanksgiving
SOS Children’s Village Florida, home to 75 children, has a heartwarming holiday tradition. Every Thanksgiving, children who have graduated from the village return with their spouses and children to be together with their SOS family.
Members of the village community—children, mothers, staff, donors, board members, and social workers, as well as alumni and their families—gather to share food and friendship. The village serves a catered, traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone dresses their best.
At the gathering, both children and adults are invited to share what they are thankful for. The children express gratitude for their SOS mothers, the “aunties” who help in their houses, and the ability to stay with their siblings. Adults who had grown up in the village share how SOS saved their lives and the village’s Thanksgiving traditions they honor in their own homes.
Each house in the village also has its own Thanksgiving dinner. Barbara and her SOS sister loved cooking honey mustard chicken wings. For Thanksgiving, they prepared their famous wings to add to the turkey and ham cooked by their SOS mother, Ms. Brenda. Barbara said that it made her feel important to contribute to their family’s big meal.
Love that lasts a lifetime
Barbara described the years she spent at SOS as “an immaculate experience.” Arriving at the village, Barbara finally felt like a kid again: comforted by the structure, safety, and love from Ms. Brenda, her brother, and her new extended family. For the first time in her life, she had a cell phone with a number listed as “Home.”
Today, thanks to the support of her SOS family and her own extraordinarily hard work, Barbara is thriving. She graduated from college, pursues graduate studies at Northeastern University, and has a career as a social worker.
“I joined Child Protective Services at the very same agency that handled my case in foster care,” Barbara explained. “I wanted to make a difference in the lives of girls and boys like me. I wanted to help the children that aren’t lucky enough to end up in the care of SOS.”
Your home is always your home
Regardless of the years or distance apart, Barbara considers SOS Children’s Villages to be her home. Barbara keeps in touch with her SOS family and was just at the village last month. On several visits, she has joined in the special Thanksgiving celebration, sharing in the tradition she remembers so fondly.
On her first day at the village, standing at a microphone among strangers, that 17-year-old girl didn’t know that those people would become her family. She had no idea about the education and career that lay ahead for her. She couldn’t have imagined that she would one day help other children have bright futures, just like hers.
Will you help a child today?
It only takes $472 to give a child like Barbara a safe, warm, loving home for the holidays.
Will you help us give every child the love he or she deserves?
Here’s how: https://team.sos-usa.org/LovingHome