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  • Writer's pictureFather Lance W. Harlow


One of the youth at our homeless shelter left during the night. He didn't want to follow our rules. Although the St. Nicholas Project works to promote the good works at the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, I am also involved with a homeless shelter at my church which we co-sponsor with an area social agency that works with teenagers and

young adults. We operate a nightly warming shelter from November 1- April 1 for young men and women, ages 18-24.

There are many parallels between the work at the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children and the homeless shelter in that each age group comes from troubled homes. The troubles vary, as you might imagine. But for those of us who work with that population of children and young adults, among the many virtues that are required: such as patience, forgiveness and love, one of the hardest virtues to maintain is detachment.

By detachment, I mean the maintaining a professional detachment between us and the child or young adult. That means, we have to let them go. Sometimes the youth at the shelter leave because they don't want to follow the rules any longer. They would prefer a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol and crime rather than follow a few basic rules. We have to let them go physically and emotionally because we have done what we could do for them.

Similarly, at the children's home, the family may decide to take their child back home. We may realize that sometimes that decision may not be in the best interest for the child's welfare, but we have to let them go physically and emotionally, too.

It is human to become attached to people when you take care of them, but it also requires a certain level of professional detachment to be able to let them go. That part is not always easy and it hurts. Loving requires sacrifice which sometimes hurts, but loving also requires hope that God will take care of all of His children--even without us.

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