During our time at Tides Family Services, Brother Michael Reese (BMR) told us many times (in his heavy New York accent): “if you don’t take risks, you’ll never grow.” I find this quote to be very applicable to everything I have experienced on this S.O.U.L trip to Narragansett, Rhode Island. I have grown and learned so much in just the span of a week. As we near the end of our time here, I realize that I have grown more then I ever imagined I would.
Today we spent time at the Ocean Tides (OT) school with the students and teachers. The boys that come to OT have been damaged in unfathomable ways. They are broken and untrusting. Many are lost and ashamed, having been deprived of a loving childhood. However, I witnessed so many smiling faces and positive relationships at OT, built on unconditional mercy and trust. The staff and caregivers serve as surrogate parents and I was amazed by the love and support that filled the halls.
If I have learned anything at Ocean Tides, it is that change takes time. Bit by bit, the boys come to realize that they are valuable and that they are loved. Slowly they start to recognize true unconditional love and it shows in their demeanor. The change cannot be seen immediately. It is the result of many caring people who never gave up. People who took a risk and grew.
As a week-long volunteer group, we may not feel that we are contributing much. We may not see the change that we are a part of. However, change takes time, and every moment that we interact with another in a way that is kind and loving, we are making an impact.