DALLAS - A Dallas program worked all summer getting a group of homeless children prepared for the start of school, and it happened one stitch at a time.
While one entering Interfaith Housing can hear plenty of songs, they what won't see televisions, video games or computers. Interfaith Housing is a "no screen zone." The program is a way to help children heal from the trauma and instability of homelessness.
"They experience things in their lives most adults never experience, from domestic violence to substance abuse to death, poverty to hunger [and] not knowing when they are having a steady place to sleep, where their next meal is coming from," said Dr. Scott Smith, a clinical social worker who works with the children.
Interfaith Housing provides transitional housing and support services for Dallas area homeless families. Its "Heart, Head and Hands" after-school program is a therapeutic curriculum that is specifically designed to address the needs of homeless children. It focuses heavily on arts and crafts. All the activities, whether it's molding clay or drawing pictures, help the children become more calm and resilient. They also express themselves by making tapestries, many of which are hanging on the walls, giving them a sense of belonging.
"When people come in and talk to their kids they say, 'This is my home. I don't live in a shelter. I live in Interfaith. I have an apartment. This is my home,'" said Meredith Sturlin, of the Interfaith Housing Coalition.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert recently visited their home as the kids presented him with a tapestry they made.
Interfaith Housing has 50 apartments for the children and their families. It serves families of all faiths, or no faith at all. The children attend regular DISD schools. Families stay an average time that ranges from six to 12 months.