“Get up and get out!”


The tone of my father’s voice left no room for questions as my sister and I climbed out of bed in the middle of the night. We followed the family evacuation plan to meet at the curb in front of our home, meeting our brother there. As we stood waiting for further instruction, a car horn began to blare from beside the house. Then we saw the flames erupting from our minivan, still parked beside our home.


Fire fighter with fire extinguisher fighting flamesSoon the quarter acre suburban lot was filled with police and fire fighters working to contain and investigate the blaze. My siblings and I were escorted to our neighbor’s house as our parents dealt with the investigators.


We never found out who set the fire or why they did it. There were nightmares and fears that came out over the next several months, as our safe home had been violated. Yet my family was able to recover together and, over time, home felt safe again.


But what about those children who always have a figurative fire burning in their home? Those who never enjoy a feeling of safety? Or those children who, like me, have their sense of safety taken away in the middle of the night, but, unlike me, don’t have the supportive family to restore it over time?


These are the children we are serving every day across the continuum of care provided at Boys and Girls Homes. We work hard to finally provide them with a place of safety, where they know that they can truly explore their own potential without having to fight for survival.


That is why the first stage of our residential GRACE program is Safety and Belonging. We know that until you feel safe, you cannot focus on anything else. And for our staff, there is a moment when you see the growth start to happen and know that the child finally feels safe. It is one of the most rewarding moments possible and marks the first step on the journey to discovering their greatness.


Melissa Hopkins is the Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

Learn more about GRACE at B&GH.


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