I work with a low-income population that lives in subsidized housing. I serve hundreds of families and individuals. Each has their own story about how they got there. They are new immigrants and refugees, the elderly and disabled. They are victims of generational poverty, car accidents, divorce, and illness. Many have managed just fine and are content. Many feel invisible, and helpless. They all know what a dangerous place the world can be.
This community is a microcosm of the world’s most vulnerable, and it is filled with children.
I see these children all the time and they are bright, and eager, and ornery. They say hi to me and I tell them that I like the bow in their hair or their funky backpack. They smile and then I smile. I am no longer quick to judge a person’s circumstances by where they live or what they wear. As I have gotten to know this community, I have learned that many of these children live in homes that are filled with love, and with strong and determined parents.
I come from a family that suffered little as far as the outside world could tell. We weren’t rich, but we had enough money, a stable family unit, access to an average education and a few opportunities. It all looked pretty good to our family and friends. But our mother never wanted children. She even once told me to my face that having children is not what is it cracked up to be. I was like, Mom, I’m your kid. Really? So, we became the house staff as soon as we could lift a broom or clean a toilet. We still joke about how sweeping the kitchen floor led to a "while you're at it" of sweeping down the basement steps, then changing the cat litter, and folding the laundry. Our father who played with us occasionally when we were little, worked on himself mostly, and was absent a lot. Pretty much every day we were told to make ourselves scarce.
How we are able to teach and influence our children depends on our own circumstances. Time spent with them, especially when they are very young, is precious. For many, resources are limited. Political environments, illness, you name it, the box the world draws around us is very real. So many of us are forced into a false narrative, and self-imposed limits. On top of it, our path to success is encumbered by the way the world sees us. That's a lot for a little one and they absorb everything.
Renny Run is a tiny way that we can encourage the children in our lives to open their eyes and develop a strong faith in themselves, no matter their circumstances or how the outside world views them. Money, opportunities, and even love may be scarce, but the Renny Run mindset is free and available to everyone. We offer a moment of joy, a seed of confidence. Afterall, without faith in oneself, how can we begin to achieve success, whatever that might look like.
Confidence, not clothing. Renny Run.