Friday was my first return to Renaissance Village since the birth of our second daughter Eve in December. I went with just her with the intention of reconnecting with the children and education directors.
As I pulled up to the security check I could already see empty patches of grass left behind of missing trailers. I knew that residents were on the move out of the trailer park and into "permanent" housing, but didn't expect to see so many open spaces. I felt relief knowing that families were taking the next step post-Katrina, yet my heart ached knowing that the transition is a very difficult one for them. From what the directors had already told me, the relocation areas are troubled with crime and poverty, and the families lack basic necessities like furniture. Were some of the children I had worked with in those situations?
Upon arrival at the resource center I found the children playing outside in the playground. I spotted a few familiar faces as I got out of the car, and I smiled as they looked at me smiling and remembering. I saw Ruth and Margaret with the children too and for a moment it felt like I had never taken a break from my visits. I was greeted with hugs and excitement, and of course they were very happy about meeting Eve. Before they could hold her themselves I was swooped away by director Cynthia to come inside and spend some time.
Mary met up with us, and they treated me to very sweet gifts for Eve and Grace. I'm always surprised when they remind me how appreciated my efforts are when I'm the one who is so grateful for becoming part of their lives at the Village. Cynthia ran back out to be with the kids, and Mary and I got to talk a bit about her plans and her return to Ren Village as a case worker to help families make a successful transition out of the trialer park. It's an overwhelming and frustrating task due to red tape, but Mary has the determination to do everything she can to help things work for them.
We continued chatting outside with the children for the close of their Fun Friday afternoon. It felt so good to be there and see the kids having a great time playing dodge ball with Jordan and Cynthia. Mary and I stood on the sidelines as those not playing really wanted to hold Eve. It was fun watching their faces light up once she was in their arms. I smiled knowing that she was being welcomed into their world just as Grace and I had been.