"I am blown away by the compassion that our staff show our kids." At a recent gathering of staff, Cunningham Children's Home's CEO Marlin Livingston talked about an incident he witnessed with a young man who was screaming at staff, turning over furniture, and threatening to harm others.
"Staff remained calm and focused while the young man screamed, cried, and fought their attempts to help him gain control. They showed genuine concern for his well being. And when his anger subsided, they brought him tissues and helped him clean up. He was a mess. They wiped his nose and dried his eyes then sat with him and helped him talk about his feelings until he was able to go to his room."
Marlin shared how difficult the work can be for our staff, but how humbled he is to work with people who "show up in caring ways" everyday for our kids.
He said, "when a young man is acting out like that, the normal human response would be to shame him for his actions or respond in an angry tone, but they never did. They loved him and showed great compassion." That's what allows Cunningham to say, "hope begins here," for the more than 300 youth who are served by our residential treatment, special education, and community-based programs. Our kids all have one thing in common, they grapple with severe emotional and behavioral issues. The reasons for their struggles vary. Some have experienced abuse or neglect. Many live with mental health issues, but at Cunningham the causes aren't the main focus. Staff only use the back story to help each young person reshape their future.
As Marlin finished his story, he said, "This is tough work and I feel blessed to work with such selfless people." Heads nodded in agreement.
For 121 years, staff at Cunningham have successfully served the changing needs of young people with one thought in mind: to see every child thrive. Thanks to staff and all of those who support them for helping us fulfill a greater vision.