Courage is the choice and willingness to face agony, pain, danger, uncertainty and intimidation – according to Wikipedia. At HAVEN we see courage each and every day and in the faces of every person we assist, whether adult or children. Those individuals who must face the fear, pain, hurt and trauma of victimization know first-hand what courage is all about, even though most would never recognize the courageous steps and acts they are taking.
Imagine the courage of speaking out against your abuser. The courage to face your rapist in court. The courage of moving you and your children into a shelter. The courage of telling your employer why you are late to work. The courage needed when your actions are being questioned or behaviors are being blamed by your family and friends. The courage to have a rape kit examination and tell how your body was violated to law enforcement, prosecutors, juries.
Each fall, HAVEN partners with the Detroit Lions Courage House Board of Directors, and holds an annual fundraising dinner. This partnership, now in its 23rd year, highlights in particular the courage of HAVEN’s youngest clients – the children who reside at our shelter. Children, who at no fault of their own, move into shelter to escape the violence being perpetrated by an adult against their mom and sometimes even themselves. Children, who often very silently, exhibit incredible courage.
The funds raised at the dinner, help support the programming provided to our young residents. Programming to help the children express their emotions, to share their feelings of fear and isolation. We work with the children to identify their strengths, to help them create a safety plan, to work with them on reestablishing a positive parent/child relationship with the non-abusive parent. And as important as everything else – we give the children a space to be a child, whether they are 2 years old or 15 years old, we want them to be themselves. We want them to laugh, run, giggle, play, think, explore, and learn. Children surrounded by domestic and sexual violence, learn to walk on egg shells. At HAVEN, we want that tension to reduce and let children return to the typical activities of kids.
Recently a group of Detroit Lions players and their wives came to HAVEN to play with the kids. Activities included, a wild game of dodge ball, jumping rope, and shooting baskets, to name just a few, all had the children smiling and laughing. For 90 minutes, they could forget they were in a shelter or in therapy, and just have FUN. And the smiles on their parents’ faces, as well as the Detroit Lions’, were just as big. It was actually hard to see who was having the most fun!
So on October 20th, nearly 500 community members including the Detroit Lions Family – players, wives, coaches, and front office, staff – will gather at Ford Field. We will recognize several community leaders and a current Lions player. But what we will really be doing is giving a large dose of hope to those we serve. A dose of hope that makes courage possible and egg shells evaporate.
If you would like to join us in our efforts, you can attend the Detroit Lions Courage House dinner, featuring ESPN’s Adam Schefter at Ford Field on October 20. Click here for more information. If you cannot attend the dinner, there are still many other ways you can bring hope to our children – you can donate your time OR resources. To learn more about HAVEN and our work, visit our website here.