When is safe, safe? 

Sanctuary is a beautiful word. Sanctuary is defined as a place of refuge or safety. I wonder how people feel or react when they hear the word sanctuary.

Did you know 65,000,000 people around the world currently are refugees with no feeling of sanctuary? Can you imagine not knowing day-to-day what may happen?

The importance of having a place of sanctuary has been in the public consciousness since psychiatrist Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs and published it in his scholarly paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943. He suggested that we as human beings require basic physiological needs such as food, water, warmth, and rest. We also require a feeling of security and safety. If we are deprived of these needs, we stop developing. 

Maslow hierarchy of needs 

Many of the children and youth we serve here at Boys and Girls Homes never had a place of sanctuary in their own lives. They are always in a “survival mode”. The average child in our care has been placed over 12 different times. They start with grandparents, other relatives, foster care, group homes, hospitalization, and finally they come to us.

We respond with a commitment to provide that place of sanctuary for each child, but what does that mean? Over our history we have learned the word “response” means something a bit different. When we respond to the children, we might simply listen to them, we might give then an answer to a concern, or, better yet, offer them hope that they’re in a safe place now. We are there for survivors of trauma. When a seemingly endless cycle of disasters occur upon the child now before us, we remember we can turn our response into a hopefulness that can overcome even the most terrifying experiences and provide our children the sanctuary they so much deserve.

David Passmore is the Vice President for Residential Services at Boys and Girls Homes of NC.

Learn about our Sanctuary® model of care.

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