She knew the family. Great school counselors have a way of knowing. They watch. They learn. They ask questions. So when the mother approached her seeking rent assistance, she already knew the situation: four children under the age of ten, single mom. They had been living with Grandma but it was too tough. They needed to move out.
Like many families in the area a motel room looked like the only choice. No deposit money. No year-round income to commit to a 12-month lease. The motel had required two rooms with the five of them. Adjoining rooms in a not-so-nice motel was costing $250 per week. That included just the beds and the bathroom. With no way to cook, the nutrition quality was very low. But it was the best they could do with the resources at hand. The mom turned to the school for help and asked for $200.
The counselor was armed with so much more than $200. She had connections. Those connections made it possible to open the door to a converted motel. The owner had made studio apartments for low income families. This two bedroom one bath furnished unit also had a kitchenette with cooking capabilities. The monthly rent was $650. The deposit was $600. The lease was 6 months. The owner was a good man with a grateful heart. He negotiated the payments, spaced out the deposit and loosened up on the lease. Care For Kids money helped with $200. And the family moved in.
But that is not the end of the story.
When the counselor saw the second grade girl the next week at school she asked her how she liked her new home. The bright-eyed little girl smiled ear to ear and proclaimed,
“We are just like other families now! We have a kitchen table.
We ate breakfast there this morning.”
The kitchen table. Who would have thought that it was the qualifying ingredient in the definition of “family.”
Thank God for great school counselors.