Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
Khalaf was a dropout from high school. His family had been through years of homelessness, and his experienceof failing schools left him with enormous educational deficits.
A few years ago, looking at him, you might have been tempted to write him off as another inner-city high school dropout. Had he been trapped in that identity, his story could have followed the sad trajectory of many young men: chronic unemployment, possibly addiction and crime, even incarceration and violence. But in fact, some people looked differently at Khalaf, and saw his gifts and potential: the staff at Project HOME’s Rowan Homes, where his family had a safe, stable place to call home; volunteers and staff at our Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs.
This month, Khalaf will graduate from Williamson Trade School with an associate's degree and skills that will give him a step up in entering the workforce.
Richard picks up his granddaughter each afternoon from theHonickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs, where she attends the Community Partnership School. Richard is a homeowner in the neighborhood, a full-time worker, taxpayer, and family man. Once he was a sullen drug addict homeless on the streets of Center City; to look at him back then you might have thought that was all he was and would ever be. But thanks to the miracle and hard work of recovery, in part at our St. Elizabeth’s Recovery Residence, Richard is a positive, contributing force in the community. This different story of who he is and who he could be has a multiplier effect, bearing fruit in the next generations.
When we lock people into labels – homeless person, drug addict, high school dropout – we deny them the truth of their greater possibilities. But we also deny ourselves and our society of those possibilities, those hidden gifts. When we look beyond the labels, beyond the difficult circumstances of the present,when we see the real person, brimming with potential, we can help create a different story. When we believe in people, and help them believe in themselves, great things happen –not just for them, but for all of us.
We all share in a new and more hopeful story for them, for us, and for our community. Thanks for the many ways you support the work of Project HOME, but most of all, for sharing in our conviction of the dignity of each person. Thanks for believing, like us, that despite the harshest of circumstances, everyone has a story of hope and possibility within them, and that we can empower those stories when we truly believe in each other.
Thank you for your countless acts of compassion and generosity that have changed many lives and stories.