Tile by Tile

The week had started off really well with the tour of all the campuses Monday. Since I want to become a social worker myself, I really enjoyed the tours and hearing from the leaders of the different campuses of Maryville Academy. However, I was really looking forward to meeting some of the children and adolescents in the Academy on Tuesday. When I found out we would be doing arts and crafts at the Madden home, I was very excited but also nervous. We had met some of the women living there the day before, and one did not seem to be very happy to see us at all.
The day came and our team was split up into two groups. One group did a beautiful job re-painting the walls of the dining room area. My group went into a different room and found out that we had the honor of contributing to the wall of tiles that had been started by the home. Each woman that gets to stay in this shelter gets to decorate a tile with whatever they want, usually an inspirational quote. Then their tile gets added to the growing tile wall, and it gives them a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
The women that stay at this shelter are under 21 and have given birth to a child, one that was 15. There were two women with newborns and they were the most adorable things! However it took a while to engage the women to make a tile with us and talk. After we asked some questions they became comfortable with us and told us a bit about themselves. We had an great time and I think the girls did as well. In the afternoon we made Valentines Day decorations with one very energetic and funny girl named Juanna (“you-wanna”). She told us stories of how she wanted to be a nurse one day because the ones she had treated her badly. After that we disinfected a bunch of the babies toys, which were really gross. Marisa and I also got to help do research for the classes our community partner teaches about life and parenting skills. As we were leaving, Juanna asked if we were coming back, which made me sad and happy at the same time because I knew we wouldn’t be, but I was glad that we had given her a little bit of joy that day. I was proud of the work we did, and felt we made a difference and learned so much.

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