Until June I will be participating in a program designed for citizens who are currently or who are striving to be in leadership roles in our community. Each month we meet as a group to learn about aspects of our city we may not be familiar with. Last month I spent the day in our downtown area learning about the history of buildings, founding families and architecture. Yesterday we focused on “human needs.” We visited homeless shelters, the school district clothing exchange program, a food pantry, a housing shelter for veterans and a treatment facility for boys who have been tossed around the juvenile detention system the majority of their lives.
Arriving at the conference room for the Home for Boys I immediately took notice of the boxes of Kleenex around us; this was going to be heart wrenching. I have driven by the building almost every day of my life and never taken the time to find out exactly what goes on inside. We watched a short film about the treatment facility and began thumbing through a packet holding a few cases with names blacked out for confidentiality.
The details of abuse I read on those pages were unimaginable. The amount of physical, sexual and verbal abuse they had gone through would make anyone suicidal and in fact, most of the boys were suicidal upon their arrival. Some children had been bounced around foster homes over forty times. In the twenty-six years I have lived in this city I had no idea there is a treatment program designed to monitor self-harm inflicting eleven-year old boys just a few minutes from my high school.
During these leadership training days we are served lunch. I get nervous because I know our lunches are usually a sub sandwich, potato chips, and other typical Standard American Diet fare. I never mention anything about the special diet my fiancée and I follow; leadership days are my “cheat days.” Last time we had lunch during a presentation from the historical society. Yesterday we enjoyed lunch with boys from the treatment facility before touring their sleeping quarters.
For 30 minutes I put any paleo/primal/ancestral health out the window and focused on listening to the two boys at my table who had endured horrific abuse. We ate grilled cheese sandwiches and talked about our favorite music; one boy liked blues and the other liked underground hip-hop. Before our tour continued we had dessert, a red, white and blue popsicle. While we toured the rest of the campus the kids went to therapy.
As I drove home to my safe, warm house to have dinner with my fiancée I thought about how thankful I am for the privileged life I lead and cried the whole way home.
The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
2 slices white bread
1 slice American cheese
2 tbsp butter
Smother the one side of the bread slices in butter and fry on the stovetop with cheese in the middle. This is best served with tomato soup and a glass of milk.
Enjoy and be thankful.