Arriving at Juvenile Hall to celebrate Christmas with a few very special young ladies, I didn’t have boxes or bows or even an ability to sing most Christmas tunes. But I had in my heart a desire to show love and dignity, and that was enough.
I sat at a table with a few young women who proudly spoke of their efforts to decorate and welcome Courage to Be You to their home because they consider it a privilege to have visitors. Chuckling at my attempt to remember their names at rapid-fire speed, the girls relaxed and told me of life outside. There were no more walls; truth could come willingly. It isn’t in theory that I say these girls have hopes and dreams; they truly do! Whether their dreams are to be a mother, a Marine, or just a better friend, their voices were heard over giggles and Christmas carols being sung. “You don’t know how much I’ve wanted to say that out loud,” one young woman told me. I took her spoken dream as the most precious gift I could have been given and promised I believed in her ability to achieve it, regardless of her circumstances.
I believe in each girl’s ability to dream and also to change her life. I went to Juvenile Hall as a friend, not as someone with an agenda or with an expectation of what I would see. What I saw broke my heart. Encouraging the girls to become desperate and willing enough to change their lives while given this time at Juvenile Hall, I saw tears shimmering on many eyelashes and hopeful smiles on many faces. As the girls began to leave the room, a young woman came up to me and asked me the most important question of the night, “Maybe I will be at Courage House one day; do you remember my name?”