Having someone to love is familyIt is that time of year when we often think of family and enjoy spending time with our loved ones.  As the years roll on, I become more aware of the importance of family and just what it means.  So many of the children in our care have no concept of what a family is supposed to be; so we strive to create a family environment in each of our cottages.  We talk often about the Boys and Girls Homes Family – but what does that mean?

I often work with Boy Scouts to teach the Family Life Merit Badge.  In that course we talk about the fact that “family” does not have to be those related by blood.  Sure, you have your immediate family, but you can also have others that are like family to you.  It is more the characteristics of family that form a group and bond the group together.  Support, encouragement, mutual respect, listening and helping are just a few of those family characteristics.  The Boys and Girls Homes family provides just that – support, hope and encouragement.

In addition to the support and encouragement of the B&GH family, we work with and encourage growth and reunification of the child’s real family.  Some of our residents are able to go for a home visit occasionally.  We just initiated a campus family visitation program in each of our cottages that supports that growth and understanding.

As I was spending time with my Mom and Sister along with our combined families over the holidays, I noticed a framed cross-stitch hanging on the wall that captures the sentiment. 

                  Having someone to love is family

                  Having somewhere to go is home

                  Having both is a blessing

We love our kids and they become part of the B&GH family.  We provide a home for them to grow and to heal.  Our children are blessed to have the B&GH family and a place to call home.  And we are continually blessed by our children!

Ray Cockrell is the Vice President for Development at Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

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