Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it. - VAN GOGH
I’m a walker, some years ago Kevin bought me a NIKE fuel band, I went through two of those and then changed it up to a Fitbit and now I'm on my second one of these. To be honest with you, I am somewhat compulsive amount getting my steps in - I’ve increased the amount of steps from 10,000 daily to 12,500. Now, I have to think of creative ways to ensure my daily success. Today, we walk the golf course rather than ride, we walk to grocery store and sometimes I go off the beaten path and find a new unexpected experience.
The above quote has made me think about some of the students we work with through our SAFE (Students and Families Empowered) program. This collaboration is between Ventura County Office of Education, Oxnard Elementary, Oxnard Union High and Santa Paula Unified School Districts. Its purpose is to undergird students who face emotional and social challenges as well as disabilities that inhibit their academic success. All too often these students fall through the cracks and drop out and/or get involved in juvenile criminal activity and suffer trauma because of their disabilities. SAFE provides school-based social/emotional health services at elementary, middle and high schools.
Recently, I was told about two students that were counseled through the SAFE program at Camarillo High School. One was young man who was angry and deviant, he didn’t want anything to do with counseling, the other was a young lady who was depressed and felt unworthy. The therapist described to me how she cared deeply for both these students – one whose anger was directed outward the other whose anger was directed inward. Both of these students needed a SAFE place to be heard, accepted, encouraged and loved. For over three years that is exactly what she provided these students; it’s no surprise that they both invited her to their graduation.
“Betty, the crowd was over 4,000 people there was no way that I would find them in the sea of bodies on the football field. I whispered a prayer and I looked up it was like the Red Sea parted and then my eyes meet both my students. Tears, hugs and smiles – it could not have been scripted better. The two most difficult students I counseled made it – they graduated, but more than that they overcame painful experiences and survived.”
I believe those students more than survived; through this therapist they experienced grace at its deepest level. They experienced the living, loving, grace of God. Thank you for your continued love and financial support. Please know it does make a difference.
Because of Him,
Betty Alvarez Ham