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December 12, 1947     Catholic Northwest Progress
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The CATHOLIC NORTHWEST PROGRESS Page Eleven FAMILY EXTRAORDINARY By REV. THOMAS GILL As Narrated by Irene Weber and Kay Furlong, Catholio Children's Bureau e DON"]? wahl to be anybody's boy, always," he stammered, 'aot until I can find my own mother again!" The stiffly arched back, "the clenched fists, and the shrill pitch of the etght-year-old's voice made a picture of the kind of resistance which is born of pani 'I want my own mother! N Then oratory gave way to tears, and the sobs which Bhook hie sturdy little frame spoke more eloqUently-than his words of his fear that someone was going to try to displace his mother in his heart. Gradtialiy the storr,; wore off. Then there was a moment of silence. He was aware for the first time of the gentle pressure of the two hands that lay on his shoulders. Then he heard t low pelasant voice say- lag: "That's not what I meant, Ronnie, when I said you could be one of us in this home. Of course you want your mother. I am sure she wants you. Someday she may be able to have you with her. I know that will make her glad, too. In the meantime, we want you to be happy, and so we want you to feel at home here_" That was Rcnie's entrance into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dennia Erin, new foster parents for (atholic Children's Bureau, a Red Feather Service. It was an important moment for Ronnie because it was a turning point in his trouble--a turning point for a boy whose longing for the mother that had deserted him was sickening his soul. The manner, the look. the sound of Mrs. Erin awoke an odd Comfort in him; then ten-year-old Peter's voluntarily giv- ing up his room, the best of the children's quarters, so Ronnie might have the most pleasant surroundings the house could afford and good-natured Tommy's divid- ing his toys with Ronnie touched some- thing in this little fellow's native sense of generosity. He responded with a readi- ness and ease that surprised even him- self by gallantly treating the Erin boys to ice cream and candy with his last forty cents. A few days later, on his own ini- tiative, he went to the telephone, called the foster family with whom he had pre- viously lived and urged them to come around and meet his new family whom he described with his choicest adjective, "swell." Ronnie's mother did come back, and Ronnie is with her now, happy and un- spoiled, because the Erins kept alive in the little lad's soul that trust which keeps little boys and little girls eager for life. As it turned out, that fateful day was Just as important for the Catholic Chin dren's agency, and the community it serves. For this was our introduction to a family that has done such an out- standing job for youngsters in Seattle who needed help and a home, it deserves to be known and appreciated by all. Big In Family Life The Erin's is a big family. Its bigness is not in numbers because it is of only average size. Its bigness is in that qual- ity of family life which enables some families to give so much to their mem- bers--so much understanding, so much encouragement, so much opportunity, so much hope, and above all else, so much love. It is bigger than its own needs, so it. has a surplus of these vital qualities to share with others. Dennis and Mary Erin are fairly young in years---still on the sunny side of forty --but their spirits are bounding with the very youth of the children around them. Both are quite remarkable as individuals, most remarkable as a team. The father is quite a competent person in his own right--wel educated, technically trained, and successful in a very demanding job. His is an alert, inquisitive and resource- ful mind. Yet that is not his chief asset. Rather t is his fine feeling for his fel- iowmen, his natural, easy, genuine and warm response to them, especially to children. Mrs Erin is somewhat above average in intelligence although her range of ex- perience ha been largely confined to that of a homemaker. Her genius is in her heart. It is a veritable gem of nat- ural edowment, harmonizing the subtle Inure of poise, confidence, ready sympa- lhy, gentle sensitivity and respect for ers, good humor, and enduring devo- tion. Her very voice betrays these riches t Q 0 personality, with its undertones of sRzmth, and tt graceful, flmabillty, giv- ing the impression of sincere interest and deHcato feeling for the person she speaks to. In a word, Mrs. Erin is an admirably suited candidate for the Job of being a parent. Her own children prove it. You should hear her talk about therru "Now Peter Is the sage of the family," she says. ' do not mean that he is extraordinarily smart, although he is able enough; but he was sick a lot when he was a little boy, and lagged behind the other children at the start. He knew what it meant to be at a disadvantage. He's never for- gotten it. He is quickest to sense hurt, sorrow, shame in another child. He will be a big help in reaching any youngster you bring to us. "Tommy, on the other hand, is the easy-going type. He is almost always smiling, laughs a lot, takes life as it comes. He won't make any record as a scholar I'm afraid, but he will be fun for both the children and the grove- ups. You can't push him any faster than his nat- ural pace, but if you let him alone, he'll get there and with a grin on his face at that! "Then there is Jerry, the baby. He is still real- ly very young, but my, : how he can take and give affection! He nearly pulis the place apart when his dad comes home. If you have any. children who need" some- one to love, 'Jerry will be a sheer delight to them." Typical .American Family An encouraging aspect of the whole story of the Erin family is that they are so typical, so middle- of - the - road Americam They live in a comfort- able, middle-class neigh- borhood in a large ram- bling, old-fashioned home with a definitely "lived- in" look. Its extra-size yard is ample for a wide variety of children's play, now serving as a foot- ball field, now a prairie for the Indian WarS, 'now a garden for the tea- party, even a roaming grlbund for the family's present pet, Porky, the pig. The lower end of the grounds, beyond the house, even boasts the distinction of a black-berry patch. It is the kind of house, the kind of lot, the kind of street you may find in practically every neighborhood in Seattle. Common as they may be, such homes are still the object of intensive search. The postman, of course, knows them; the groceryman, the patrolman on the beat. The neighbors know who they are, but an organization struggling wtth the task of providing for hundreds of homeless children has to search them out. That is unfortunate because on the one hand agencies could not accept children for care unless they could offer them more than mere shelter, food and clothing, be- cause invariably the children who are separated from parents, brothers, sisters and kin are deprived of more than the material necessities of life. They need the assurance that someone unda them, loves them, will protect them. On the other hand, the agencies have to rely on. families to give the actual care to most of the children. The agency can The True Story of Charity In A Modern Home and must get to know the problem of the child, his anxiety, his fearsy, his loneli- ness. his longings. The agency must strive cautiously and skillfully to unfold to the youngster the real .meaning of the experiences he has had, the reasons for his psent separation from his family and what the future holds in store for him. But these are not lesson to be- taught from a book. These are tremen- dously high-powered realities the child must learn and accept. Usually he can do so only through the help of a family which is willing to share, not just its bread or its beds, but its life--to be a mother, a dad, a brother, a sister, to the child who is aching for thee. That is why we were so earnestly look- ing for the Erins even before we knew their name. You might say it was Ron- nte who led us to the Erins. Because They Love Children They can help children because they love children, beginning with their own. When little Jerry was sick in the hos- pital one time, the whole family came to visit him every evening. They brought him things they knew he liked. They re- ONE OF 625 I'M MICHAEL, One of Catholic Children Bureau's 625 Children membered how he enjoyed saying the evening prayers together, enjoyed partic- ularly his turn at leading the short, sim- ple prayers. So mother, father and broth- ers would kneel around Jerry's bed say- ing the prayers aloud--much to the amazement and undoubtedly the edifica- tion of the attendants in that fi0n-Catho- lie hospital. It is not just the parents who try to help the foster children--it's the whole Erin family. One time when our Ronnie was having a particular difficult spell, Peter and Tommy Ertn were noticed lin- gering on their knees after the family night prayenk When Mrs. Erin asked them about it several days later, they said: "Oh, we were Just adding a couple of extra prayers for Ronnle's intention." This spirit has caught on. Now it is not at all uncommon to find similar re- sponses forthcoming from the children whom the family is caring for. Little Louise lad heard Mrs. Erin remarl to her husband how pleased she would be to have a nice statue of the Blessed Mother for the upstairs hall. Louise had heard of a contest in which one of the prizes was just such a statue' Without a word to anyone she set about her purpose of earning that prize. It nearly broke her heart when she found that she was dis- qualified by a technicality and that's the way the family found out about iL All she could say, in her sobbing was, "Oh, I want Mama Erin to have that statue." Meet the Child's Problems The Erins try to meet the child's prob- lem, not to force him to fill a spot and turn in a performance they require. Da- vid, for instance, was a boy who would try a Saint with his listless indifference. In fact, everybody else thought David was just plain dull. But Mrs. Erin knew he could be helped. The Sister in the parochial school was somewhat dubious about this after her first month with David in class but she simply could not deny Mrs. Erin's plea for patience and time. "You will see, Sister, David will improve if you'll just give us a little time." Tommy's help was enlisted as a special coach for David. Certainly no one would be upset by so good-humored a tutor. About six weeks later, the little fellow had made such strides that the Sister teaching his class could not re- frain from callg Mrs. Erin. "I don't know what you are doing out there," she said, "but a miracle must be happening." Mrs. Erin knew wherein the miracle con- sisted--the power of love and confidence. Their reward? The immediate joy in the sight of happiness reviving in chil- dren's hearts. It thrills them. S)me months ago they were caring for Danny, a youngster who at the age of five had been dragged through more miseries than most people would have in a long life. Danny's mother was addicted to a dread- ful weakness that caused her grossly to neglect her boy almost from infancy, even though she had a deep attachment for the youngster. After one of her worst episodes, the court took the child from his mother and placed him in the care of the Catholic Children's Bureau. Danny went to the Erin's to live. Not long after his arrival he was invited with other children of the neighborhood to the birthday party of a year-old baby who lived a few houses away. When the con- versation among the children atthe party got around to the subject of birthday celebrations, Danny remarked that he couldn't remember any of his own but he must liave had one since he had been one year old, too. This remark, both amazing and amusing, was conveyed in due time to Mrs. Erin by one of the other children. In her next conversation with the Catholic Children's Bureau case- worker, Mrs. Erin asked the date of Danny's birthday. She learned that it was only a few weeks away. Immedi- ately she announced to Danny that he had better start planning for his birth- day, as there was to be a party and he was to have his friends invited. Mrs. Erin was Just a little puzzled by the casual manner with which Danny received the news. Obviously, it didn't assume much importance for the little fellow. But after he passed the news on to his playmates in the neighborhood, and noted their eagerness, gradually his own enthuslgsm mounted. By the time his birthday drew near, his excitement could hardly be restrained..4, few days before the day Itself he got a "false Mrs. Ertn had gone to town to shop. She lxought a new dishpan home with her. Danny happened into the kitchen while she wa upstairs, and noticing the hnportant looking package, still in its store-wrapping, assumed that It was his birthday present. Whereupon, he took it out and ran down the street to show it proudly to his playmates. When they objected: "Aw, that ain't no birthday present! That's Just  an oF dtshpan  (Continued on Page 21) The CATHOLIC NORTHWEST PROGRESS Page Eleven FAMILY EXTRAORDINARY By REV. THOMAS GILL As Narrated by Irene Weber and Kay Furlong, Catholio Children's Bureau e DON"]? wahl to be anybody's boy, always," he stammered, 'aot until I can find my own mother again!" The stiffly arched back, "the clenched fists, and the shrill pitch of the etght-year-old's voice made a picture of the kind of resistance which is born of pani 'I want my own mother! N Then oratory gave way to tears, and the sobs which Bhook hie sturdy little frame spoke more eloqUently-than his words of his fear that someone was going to try to displace his mother in his heart. Gradtialiy the storr,; wore off. Then there was a moment of silence. He was aware for the first time of the gentle pressure of the two hands that lay on his shoulders. Then he heard t low pelasant voice say- lag: "That's not what I meant, Ronnie, when I said you could be one of us in this home. Of course you want your mother. I am sure she wants you. Someday she may be able to have you with her. I know that will make her glad, too. In the meantime, we want you to be happy, and so we want you to feel at home here_" That was Rcnie's entrance into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dennia Erin, new foster parents for (atholic Children's Bureau, a Red Feather Service. It was an important moment for Ronnie because it was a turning point in his trouble--a turning point for a boy whose longing for the mother that had deserted him was sickening his soul. The manner, the look. the sound of Mrs. Erin awoke an odd Comfort in him; then ten-year-old Peter's voluntarily giv- ing up his room, the best of the children's quarters, so Ronnie might have the most pleasant surroundings the house could afford and good-natured Tommy's divid- ing his toys with Ronnie touched some- thing in this little fellow's native sense of generosity. He responded with a readi- ness and ease that surprised even him- self by gallantly treating the Erin boys to ice cream and candy with his last forty cents. A few days later, on his own ini- tiative, he went to the telephone, called the foster family with whom he had pre- viously lived and urged them to come around and meet his new family whom he described with his choicest adjective, "swell." Ronnie's mother did come back, and Ronnie is with her now, happy and un- spoiled, because the Erins kept alive in the little lad's soul that trust which keeps little boys and little girls eager for life. As it turned out, that fateful day was Just as important for the Catholic Chin dren's agency, and the community it serves. For this was our introduction to a family that has done such an out- standing job for youngsters in Seattle who needed help and a home, it deserves to be known and appreciated by all. Big In Family Life The Erin's is a big family. Its bigness is not in numbers because it is of only average size. Its bigness is in that qual- ity of family life which enables some families to give so much to their mem- bers--so much understanding, so much encouragement, so much opportunity, so much hope, and above all else, so much love. It is bigger than its own needs, so it. has a surplus of these vital qualities to share with others. Dennis and Mary Erin are fairly young in years---still on the sunny side of forty --but their spirits are bounding with the very youth of the children around them. Both are quite remarkable as individuals, most remarkable as a team. The father is quite a competent person in his own right--wel educated, technically trained, and successful in a very demanding job. His is an alert, inquisitive and resource- ful mind. Yet that is not his chief asset. Rather t is his fine feeling for his fel- iowmen, his natural, easy, genuine and warm response to them, especially to children. Mrs Erin is somewhat above average in intelligence although her range of ex- perience ha been largely confined to that of a homemaker. Her genius is in her heart. It is a veritable gem of nat- ural edowment, harmonizing the subtle Inure of poise, confidence, ready sympa- lhy, gentle sensitivity and respect for ers, good humor, and enduring devo- tion. Her very voice betrays these riches t Q 0 personality, with its undertones of sRzmth, and tt graceful, flmabillty, giv- ing the impression of sincere interest and deHcato feeling for the person she speaks to. In a word, Mrs. Erin is an admirably suited candidate for the Job of being a parent. Her own children prove it. You should hear her talk about therru "Now Peter Is the sage of the family," she says. ' do not mean that he is extraordinarily smart, although he is able enough; but he was sick a lot when he was a little boy, and lagged behind the other children at the start. He knew what it meant to be at a disadvantage. He's never for- gotten it. He is quickest to sense hurt, sorrow, shame in another child. He will be a big help in reaching any youngster you bring to us. "Tommy, on the other hand, is the easy-going type. He is almost always smiling, laughs a lot, takes life as it comes. He won't make any record as a scholar I'm afraid, but he will be fun for both the children and the grove- ups. You can't push him any faster than his nat- ural pace, but if you let him alone, he'll get there and with a grin on his face at that! "Then there is Jerry, the baby. He is still real- ly very young, but my, : how he can take and give affection! He nearly pulis the place apart when his dad comes home. If you have any. children who need" some- one to love, 'Jerry will be a sheer delight to them." Typical .American Family An encouraging aspect of the whole story of the Erin family is that they are so typical, so middle- of - the - road Americam They live in a comfort- able, middle-class neigh- borhood in a large ram- bling, old-fashioned home with a definitely "lived- in" look. Its extra-size yard is ample for a wide variety of children's play, now serving as a foot- ball field, now a prairie for the Indian WarS, 'now a garden for the tea- party, even a roaming grlbund for the family's present pet, Porky, the pig. The lower end of the grounds, beyond the house, even boasts the distinction of a black-berry patch. It is the kind of house, the kind of lot, the kind of street you may find in practically every neighborhood in Seattle. Common as they may be, such homes are still the object of intensive search. The postman, of course, knows them; the groceryman, the patrolman on the beat. The neighbors know who they are, but an organization struggling wtth the task of providing for hundreds of homeless children has to search them out. That is unfortunate because on the one hand agencies could not accept children for care unless they could offer them more than mere shelter, food and clothing, be- cause invariably the children who are separated from parents, brothers, sisters and kin are deprived of more than the material necessities of life. They need the assurance that someone unda them, loves them, will protect them. On the other hand, the agencies have to rely on. families to give the actual care to most of the children. The agency can The True Story of Charity In A Modern Home and must get to know the problem of the child, his anxiety, his fearsy, his loneli- ness. his longings. The agency must strive cautiously and skillfully to unfold to the youngster the real .meaning of the experiences he has had, the reasons for his psent separation from his family and what the future holds in store for him. But these are not lesson to be- taught from a book. These are tremen- dously high-powered realities the child must learn and accept. Usually he can do so only through the help of a family which is willing to share, not just its bread or its beds, but its life--to be a mother, a dad, a brother, a sister, to the child who is aching for thee. That is why we were so earnestly look- ing for the Erins even before we knew their name. You might say it was Ron- nte who led us to the Erins. Because They Love Children They can help children because they love children, beginning with their own. When little Jerry was sick in the hos- pital one time, the whole family came to visit him every evening. They brought him things they knew he liked. They re- ONE OF 625 I'M MICHAEL, One of Catholic Children Bureau's 625 Children membered how he enjoyed saying the evening prayers together, enjoyed partic- ularly his turn at leading the short, sim- ple prayers. So mother, father and broth- ers would kneel around Jerry's bed say- ing the prayers aloud--much to the amazement and undoubtedly the edifica- tion of the attendants in that fi0n-Catho- lie hospital. It is not just the parents who try to help the foster children--it's the whole Erin family. One time when our Ronnie was having a particular difficult spell, Peter and Tommy Ertn were noticed lin- gering on their knees after the family night prayenk When Mrs. Erin asked them about it several days later, they said: "Oh, we were Just adding a couple of extra prayers for Ronnle's intention." This spirit has caught on. Now it is not at all uncommon to find similar re- sponses forthcoming from the children whom the family is caring for. Little Louise lad heard Mrs. Erin remarl to her husband how pleased she would be to have a nice statue of the Blessed Mother for the upstairs hall. Louise had heard of a contest in which one of the prizes was just such a statue' Without a word to anyone she set about her purpose of earning that prize. It nearly broke her heart when she found that she was dis- qualified by a technicality and that's the way the family found out about iL All she could say, in her sobbing was, "Oh, I want Mama Erin to have that statue." Meet the Child's Problems The Erins try to meet the child's prob- lem, not to force him to fill a spot and turn in a performance they require. Da- vid, for instance, was a boy who would try a Saint with his listless indifference. In fact, everybody else thought David was just plain dull. But Mrs. Erin knew he could be helped. The Sister in the parochial school was somewhat dubious about this after her first month with David in class but she simply could not deny Mrs. Erin's plea for patience and time. "You will see, Sister, David will improve if you'll just give us a little time." Tommy's help was enlisted as a special coach for David. Certainly no one would be upset by so good-humored a tutor. About six weeks later, the little fellow had made such strides that the Sister teaching his class could not re- frain from callg Mrs. Erin. "I don't know what you are doing out there," she said, "but a miracle must be happening." Mrs. Erin knew wherein the miracle con- sisted--the power of love and confidence. Their reward? The immediate joy in the sight of happiness reviving in chil- dren's hearts. It thrills them. S)me months ago they were caring for Danny, a youngster who at the age of five had been dragged through more miseries than most people would have in a long life. Danny's mother was addicted to a dread- ful weakness that caused her grossly to neglect her boy almost from infancy, even though she had a deep attachment for the youngster. After one of her worst episodes, the court took the child from his mother and placed him in the care of the Catholic Children's Bureau. Danny went to the Erin's to live. Not long after his arrival he was invited with other children of the neighborhood to the birthday party of a year-old baby who lived a few houses away. When the con- versation among the children atthe party got around to the subject of birthday celebrations, Danny remarked that he couldn't remember any of his own but he must liave had one since he had been one year old, too. This remark, both amazing and amusing, was conveyed in due time to Mrs. Erin by one of the other children. In her next conversation with the Catholic Children's Bureau case- worker, Mrs. Erin asked the date of Danny's birthday. She learned that it was only a few weeks away. Immedi- ately she announced to Danny that he had better start planning for his birth- day, as there was to be a party and he was to have his friends invited. Mrs. Erin was Just a little puzzled by the casual manner with which Danny received the news. Obviously, it didn't assume much importance for the little fellow. But after he passed the news on to his playmates in the neighborhood, and noted their eagerness, gradually his own enthuslgsm mounted. By the time his birthday drew near, his excitement could hardly be restrained..4, few days before the day Itself he got a "false Mrs. Ertn had gone to town to shop. She lxought a new dishpan home with her. Danny happened into the kitchen while she wa upstairs, and noticing the hnportant looking package, still in its store-wrapping, assumed that It was his birthday present. Whereupon, he took it out and ran down the street to show it proudly to his playmates. When they objected: "Aw, that ain't no birthday present! That's Just  an oF dtshpan  (Continued on Page 21)