If you walk into the Treehouse Community Center these days you will hear
the rat-a-tat sound of a floor drill. We are replacing the floor in the
Gathering Space – the largest area of the TCC where we all gather for Soup Tastings, Treehouse Teas, homework, birthday parties, adoption celebrations, Re- Envisioning Foster Care Working Group meetings, sign language classes, seasonal fiestas, celebrations of life, art projects, pot lucks, regional gatherings,and much more!
Replacing the floor has given us an opportunity to use many other parts of the Community Center to host events. Last week-end the HEROES Youth Leadership
Project used the Kitchen, Library and Foyer when making a film.
“Grace & Flexibility” is our motto!
Yesterday afternoon I opened the door to the Library and was delighted to
encounter more than a dozen people, ranging in age from 3 weeks old to
65 years, engaged in an array of activities. “What fun!”, I thought and
immediately walked over to meet our newest Treehouse
community member who was sleeping in the arms of a loving neighbor.
After greeting everyone I found an open spot at the Homework Table where
Westfield State interns, a young girl and a lovely elder were making Christmas
tree ornaments and two teens were researching job openings at the Holyoke Mall.
Treehouse Community Facilitator, Kerry Homstead, was reading
a college application essay that had just been completed by one of our
high school seniors. As she gave him feedback our Treehouse Tutor checked
in with another youth who had requested help with her homework. They decided
to go to the Conference Room where they could work on a project that required
more space and a quieter work environment. A Treehouse staff member was
seated on the couch engaged in a lively discussion with several young people.
Kerry finished reading the college application essay and began to take photos
of the group. A mom walked in and asked if the tutor might have time to fit her daughter into the day’s Homework Help schedule. After she signed her up, she
headed out to take her younger daughter to an appointment. Arrangements
were made to transport her daughter home after the science homework was
Conversations in English, Spanish, Spanglish and Sign Language filled
the room. When our newest Treehouse community member woke up and needed
a diaper change, I offered to help. We were all delighted that the baby
was waking up. As we made our way through the foyer to the bathroom we
spoke gently to her. For a community of people who are on a mission to
serve children whose lives have been impacted by foster care, we are honored
to have the opportunity to support the health and well-being of infants,
toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary aged children, middle schoolers, teens
and young adults living on Treehouse Circle.
As I placed the baby gently onto the changing table and began to unfold
her tiny diaper, the door to the Women’s Room opened and a lovely young
woman requested a ride to the high school so she could attend an important
meeting. Her mom was still at work and had suggested that her daughter
walk down to the Treehouse Community Center to see if someone was available
to help out. Her kind neighbor said, “Sure!” and off they went.
After the baby had been diapered and was carefully wrapped up in a colorful
fleece blanket, her family arrived to pick her up. We exchanged greetings,
hugs and information. Then they headed home. Another mom stopped by to pick
up her mail and chat. One of the Treehouse staff members took a group of kids
outside for some fresh air. They headed for the playground.
The workers put their drills away and began to pack up. The afternoon’s
Sign Language class ended and students stopped by the Library to check on
our progress and share what they learned during their time together. The
young man who had been working on his college application essay wished everyone
a good night and went home to eat dinner. Two of his siblings came over to the Library as he was leaving and began their homework.
Those of us who had been making Christmas tree ornaments congratulated one
another on our success – a lovely tray of handcrafted bells.
As I was cutting out my last felt leaf of the day, I heard laughter. Glancing
up, I had the pleasure of seeing two young friends, one deaf and one hearing,
engaged in a conversation about a movie they had both clearly enjoyed. As they conversed their moms and siblings were making plans to get together later in
Life on Treehouse Circle is full of connection, goodness and belonging.
Something we all need. I’m delighted that replacing the Treehouse Community
Center floor has given us this opportunity to gather together and share our
lives in such caring and creative ways!