Teen offers youngsters hope

Tamairra, a 13-year-old from Washington who once was temporarily homeless and became a guest at Family Promise, is working this summer as a junior counselor at a summer camp at the shelter in Washington. Here, she's spending time with 4-year-old Jayden, a Family Promise guest who is enjoying activities in the summer camp program.

Stability means just about everything to children – parents who love them, friends to play with and a place to call home. Without it, their lives can seem hopeless.

There was a time when Tamairra's world had little stability, but that has changed. Now the 13-year-old girl, whose last name is being withheld, is in a payback mode, ready to help those who feel hopeless, just like she did not long ago.

A little more than a year ago, she and her mother moved to Washington from Florida. Without a place to stay, they moved in with her mother's sister.

“My aunt and my mother didn't get along, so we left.” They ended up living at the Family Promise house in Washington for about four months.

About seven months ago, she and her mother found an apartment of their own, “a life changer,” Tamairra said. “We just have more independence.”

This summer, Tamairra volunteered as a junior counselor at a “summer camp” based at Family Promise.

“I watch after the children and organize activities for them,” she said one day at the camp. “Helping at the camp is payback for me,” she said. “I like to do anything just to help out. I guess I am an unselfish type of person.”

Now, having an apartment to call home is something she was never sure would come about. “I knew there would be a time, but it would be a long time,” she said.

When Tamairra was at Family Promise, she never felt discouraged because she knew in her heart things would eventually be OK.

She said she knows other kids who are considered to be homeless and she talks with them, perhaps recalling her own experience as a guest at Family Promise.

“I tell them things will work out.”

Now that Tamairra has stability again, she realizes how important it is.

“When you don't have stability, you just never feel right. Not having it made me feel out of place and made me feel different, too.”

Tamairra has been where some of the children at Family Promise are now. She has a lot more to offer than activities for the children: She can offer hope.

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