October 3, 2008

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

A bottomless well of love

David SilerWhile attending a fundraising dinner for Catholic Charities Terre Haute in September, I had the privilege of hearing the story of a woman named Gina.

Gina and her husband, David, had already raised five of their own children. David’s brother and his wife were in the midst of raising their five children—very unsuccessfully.

The couple became involved with the drug methamphetamine. Like most people who take this hideous drug, they began to neglect every other aspect of their lives—including their children.

The neglect and abuse of the children led to their removal and placement into foster care by Child Protective Services.

After their father served a jail sentence, he attempted to reunite with them, but relapsed into his old way of life. So that Child Protective Services would not have to intervene again, he signed over guardianship of the children to Gina and her husband.

David began working two jobs seven days a week so that Gina could quit her job to attend to the children’s vast needs.

To demonstrate her commitment to the children, Gina began to take them to Ryves Youth Center—a program of Catholic Charities Terre Haute—every day after school, where they had found refuge while living with their mom and dad.

Ryves just happened to be located two blocks from the children’s original home and, during the difficult times at home, they would go to the youth center, where they could participate in various sports, Scouting, tutoring, an amateur radio program, computer lab, cooking and nutrition classes, and many other activities.

During the children’s time in foster care, they were not able to attend Ryves and felt a great void in their lives.

Gina started a 4-H Club at Ryves Hall and began serving meals to the children and families that show up every day after school to find a safe place to be until 9 p.m. She now volunteers at Ryves 40 to 45 hours per week.

Gina addressed the group of nearly 250 people at the fundraising dinner and used the occasion to thank the staff, volunteers and supporters of Ryves Hall.

Her gratitude is understandable, but the youth center is just doing what it has done for nearly 30 years. I don’t mean to diminish the amazing work that the youth center does, but who signs on to raise another set of five kids—very troubled kids no less?

Not only have Gina and David summoned more love than can ever be measured, Gina is giving additional love to more children at the youth center.

I am inspired, humbled and in awe of their incredible unselfishness. Their ability to summon the love that is needed to give the self-sacrifice required for this journey is a testament to the fact that love knows no boundaries.

I just know that you will want to join me in praying for Gina and her family.

(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

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