The Profound Impact of Children’s Dreams

The wishes of children living in the FESCO family shelter in Hayward — recorded by them in a list pictured here — had a profound impact on me.

Homeless Shelter IMG_5492 (002)First, I was struck by the seriousness of some of their wishes: that people wouldn’t be so violent; that life would be peaceful; that they could grow up to be whatever they wanted to be. I was also moved by their simplicity. They weren’t asking for much, just a teddy bear to hug, or a playground, or a smile.

I sadly noted that wealth got mentioned in 3 of the 15 wishes. This is such a grown-up thing to wish for. Its maturity — and what that early maturity hints at — clashed with the children’s handwriting.

As I left the FESCO family shelter to pick up my children from preschool and take them home — where we would cook dinner in our own kitchen, take baths in our private bathroom, and sleep in our own rooms – I was filled with tremendous gratitude for the work of FESCO and all of the other organizations in our Safety Net portfolio. Times are tougher than ever before for thousands of homeless families across the Bay Area. With the median rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco at $3,590, diminishing housing options, and one of the highest homelessness rates in the country, these organizations have their work cut out for them. They help ensure that families don’t slip through the cracks.

Site visits such as this one reinforce that any and all support we provide to organizations that provide safety net services – food, shelter, clothing – is critical. It does not matter if that support is through the auspices of an organization such as the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, in collaboration with other volunteers, or individual. It is always personal.

I only wish we could extend these children the opportunity to grow up safe and secure enough to see their wishes come true.

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