It Begins Like This

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Jonathan was drunk multiple times before ever completing elementary school; his father fed him bourbon so Jonathan would resist less while being sexually molested. On the night his mother was released from jail, Jonathan rode eagerly by his father's side to pick her up. Pulling off at a rest stop, his father convinced Jonathan to stay in the car while he went inside to make a phone call.

He never returned. Jonathan was 8 years old.

Are we less human because we ignore statistics that tell us 80% of child abuse perpetrators are parents? Of course not --- but convinced that personally, one person cannot change this, it makes us all the more determined to give our kids a secure, loving family life? a life that teaches them the benefits of unconditional giving and sharing.

There was a time when New York City's Catholic Church claimed, "The poor belong to us". But over the years, these downtown parishes with only meager means for assisting the poor, aggravated the already existing imbalance between Catholic needs and Catholic resources. Attention soon turned to the wealthy to share this burden.

Philanthropists come from long-established families of wealth in which donating to charity is an accepted responsibility, and in 1986 Sallie Bingham wrote: "Most rich women are invisible; we are the faces that appear behind well-known men, floating up to the surface infrequently, palely; the big contributors, often anonymous, to approved charities, or the organizers of fundraising events."

Some time ago I was a foster parent and I am still a step-parent. So I must take for granted without visual proof the horror stories that seem to shadow these roles. It's shameful to read that one out of three homeless adults is a former foster-care child. I want to object, to criticize the research as based on faulty facts ? but no doubt they'd show me otherwise.

Instead, I turned my indignation into a course of action each one of us can adopt. What hits your soft spot? Abused children, minority education, battered women, drug rehabilitation, food banks, homeless or lost children, seeing-eye dogs, free clinics, organ donors, habitat, teen runaways --- there are numerous tragedies to choose from. Not any have to interrupt your family life as you do one small part to make a difference.

Certainly like most, my income never stretches as far as I could hope for. There is always so much more that I could do --- if only! So I made an open-minded search for my answer and came up with a miracle. This would give me plenty of funds and actually went beyond what most people can even dream about. Be assured, it is very real and it can be yours too if you decide to embrace the spirit of caring and sharing.

[*Jonathan is a resident of My Friend's Place, located in Los Angeles. They open their doors to some of the 5000 homeless youth that would otherwise die this year from illness, suicide and/or assault.]

? 2005 Esther Smith

Esther Smith is author and publisher of a weekly Syndicated Newsletter; subscribe without email:

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