Written by: Lenita Dunlap, CEO
North Texas Giving Day is back this year on September 19th. We are spotlighting one of the more than 3,000 nonprofits participating this year, Heart House.
Picture this: You’re only 8 years old and you live in a war-torn country, with the threat of violence all around you. Your parents wake you up in the middle of the night and tell you that you have to leave quickly, leaving everything you have behind. You know you are looking for somewhere “safe.” But what does “safe” even mean? You might travel on foot for a week, but your journey could also last months. Finally, you might arrive to a refugee camp. You might stay for months, possibly years.
Then, you arrive in a new country: the U.S. The process is long, arduous. No one speaks your language. You have a new home, perhaps shared with two other nuclear families, relatives of your mom or dad. Attending school is intimidating. Making friends? Forget it.
Above all, though, dark memories and experiences of home and your journey hold over your head. Sleepless nights, perhaps. Perhaps you stop talking altogether. You might run to hide in corners.
You are stuck in a constant state of chaos.
But what if there was some place where you could go every day to deal with these feelings?
A safe place, after-school, every week day, from three to six, perhaps. Perhaps this program’s classrooms are actually in your apartments. Perhaps, in the clubhouse of your apartments. Perhaps at a nearby community center.
A place with teachers who could help with your homework – in-depth help, at your own pace. Teachers who understand your experiences, who give you a mindful corner, a place where you can go to regulate yourself. When you are feeling angry, melancholy, anxious... you, and only you, decide to go to this place. You could sit on the furry, comfy chair, perhaps grab a book. Perhaps close your eyes. Until you decide you feel better.
These teachers – they understand your culture, and they want you to love it. They tailor projects around learning more about your culture. You feel cherished. You can ask questions about this new addition to your culture – this American addition. Your teachers will happily answer. They will guide you through, whenever you need them.
This safe place with understanding teachers - it could also have counselors who can talk to you about your trauma and fears and culture and adjusting to your new life. They help you find that voice – that voice and agency that is given to you all of the time in the classroom, like when you decide to go to the mindful corner.
You are dealing with your problems, with the help of these teachers.
You make friends. You are able to catch up in school. You learn the language. You find your voice. You are able to regulate yourself. You understand what is happening within your body. You make friends.
You are moving from chaos to calm.
This place exists, and you’ve probably been a mile away without knowing it. We reside on the other side of US-75, across Northpark Center.
Heart House is an education non-profit that serves refugee children with a holistic after-school and summer program utilizing culturally relevant, social emotional learning to help refugee children thrive in their new community – Vickery Meadow in Dallas. We work in three sites – all within the community, within a 3-mile radius. Two are apartment-based, where a lot of our students live, and the third is at Northwest Community Center.
Donating just $300 this North Texas Giving Day will cover the cost of a YEAR of this program for a child. That’s only $25 a month for a program that can help a child deal with their trauma.
Give kids the tools they need to succeed and thrive right here in Dallas by donating to Heart House this North Texas Giving Day. Dollar for dollar gifts on North Texas Giving Day will be matched up to $19K. Get up and give here: https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/heart-house.