“The last memory he had of his dad was a happy one.
He had his ‘Dad Box’…a shoebox with a collection of the things
that he would bring to share with his dad. They laughed
and played that day. It was a really good day.”

This memory was shared by a counselor at Guardian House about the boy’s last supervised visit with his father a few weeks before his father died by suicide. We were deeply saddened by this family’s loss and tremendously inspired by the boy’s strength. 
No doubt, this young boy loves his parents, and his parents love him too. Still, his father lived with mental health challenges (alchoholism, depression, and chronic anger issues) that prevented him from having unsupervised contact with his child. Despite his best efforts to become the father that he initially intended to be, he had overwhelming difficulties.
Out of love for her son, the boy’s mother wanted to support a healthy and safe relationship between her son and his father. However, she had concerns about her son’s well-being while in his father’s unsupervised care.  For almost two years, Guardian House created a safe environment to help foster empowering interactions between the boy and his father so that their relationship could continue to grow. We are honored to have provided that safe space and the many happy memories that this boy will carry with him. Guardian House gave his mother peace of mind too.

“You were my eyes and ears when I couldn’t be there to keep him safe,” she said to us.

She recalled the first thing that her son noticed about Guardian House. “How was your visit?,” she asked. “It was great! They don’t have any beds so Dad can’t sleep while I visit.” The boy came to rely heavily on Guardian House counselors to compassionately redirect and refocus his father and ensure a good experience for them.

“We never gave up on him,” said one of the counselors who had worked with the family for years, “He kept trying, and we kept trying. How could we not? We saw just how healing those visits were for both of them.”

Recently, this boy decided to draw from his experience to help the organization that helped him and his family. He decided to hold a lemonade stand fundraiser for Guardian House. He raised and donated $100.  In his time of grief and healing, this boy was thinking of others like him and we were moved by his giving spirit.  It was such a profound experience to hear from this amazing boy – he had become part of our own Guardian House family. 
When he dropped off his generous gift, we celebrated this young philanthropist. We gave him a Guardian House bear and expressed how honored we felt that he chose to support kids like him.  As he gave his mother a tour of the spaces where he and his father used to play, we were reminded that healing is possible even in the worst of circumstances. We were reminded of how impactful our community can be in lifting our young citizens up to help them reach their potential.
Support from our community is a direct investment in families like this one. It is an investment in the room that this young man played in with his dad…in the outdoor playground where they pretended to be Star Wars characters fighting against evil…in the counselor’s smiling face that greeted them at the door each week…in the life-changing programs that gave this young boy access to his dad in a safe and healthy space, free of judgment and full of love.
Every child deserves a happy childhood, regardless of their family’s circumstances. Please consider taking a tour of Guardian House to learn how our community impacts the many generations that walk through our doors.