At the Board meeting on Saturday, I expressed my concern about the possibility of running out of space. I could buy some space by moving more kids to the quads. So far, I have moved all of the 17 years old and older. There were a few kids who are fifteen but would be sixteen within six months, so if I move all of the sixteen-year-olds and those about to turn 16, I could free up maybe 15 cocoons, which would leave me with a total of 142 empty cocoons.
“Brad, maybe we could think about building on the next lot. I could design an expandable building. For example, on the ground floor, we could have garages that could be converted to classrooms later on. On the second floor, we could build an area for more cocoons with an enclosed walkway to the dining hall. If we moved all of the 15-year-olds kids, how many cocoons would be free?”
“I would have to look at the age charts to determine that. I like the sound of the building you proposed, but could we build it higher and include the one and two-bedroom apartments.”
“I think that’s possible. I’ll draw up some plans and let you have a look at them. If you approve them, we can present them to the Board for approval.”
“Great, I have another problem that the Board might be able to help. I wanted a logo to represent Sanctuary. Tony came up with the idea of an adult hand extending downward with a child’s hand extending toward the adult’s hand. I like the concept, but we need to have a rendition of the idea. Abe, do you know anyone that could provide us with a rendition, or if any of you know someone, I’d like to have this done so we can use it on our t-shirts.”
“I’ll check with the people who do the renditions of our commercial buildings.”
“I might be helpful. I’ll check with some of the programs that sponsor young artists.”
“Thanks, Abe and Grace. Once we have the logo, I’d like to change the sign on the building to include the logo.”
After the meeting was over, “Brad, you haven’t followed up on the painting contest for the building. You’ll need to review the winners drawing and get that done before anything else. It’ll make a better image, and your idea of a logo is good as well. But I think there is another reason you want this done quickly. What is it?”
“Mom, how can you read me so well?”
“I’ve known you for a long time, now what is it?”
“I want to give the kids a necklace with a medal showing the logo on one side and their name on the backside. I want to give this to them on their anniversary.”
“That sounds like a great idea. But it would help if you still thought about something for their birthday. Why don’t you give them a birthday present on their birthday? All kids look forward to getting a present on their birthday.”
“Thanks, Mom. I know I can always count on you.”
As we were heading toward the dining hall, “Dad, Officers Murray and O’Shea are looking for you.”
“Thanks, Pat. Would you go and tell them I’m on my way.”
“You seem to like him.”
“Yes, I do. I’d adopt him if it weren’t a problem with the other kids,”
“I don’t understand that.”
“All of these kids are looking for a family that will love them for who they are. How can I pick one kid without hurting the rest?”
“You probably have already without realizing it. The way you talk to Pat or look at him conveys your feelings. If you want not to show favoritism, you must treat the other kids like you do Pat, but you cannot exclude Pat. You must still pay attention to him as well; otherwise, he’ll feel that he has done something to disappoint you. That may destroy him.”
Mom was right. I need to start paying attention to the kids as a group. Walking into the dining hall, I spotted Murray getting coffee. I followed Mom to the line and got a cup of coffee as she went through the line for lunch. Taking my coffee, I sat next to O’Shea. “Pat said you and Murray were looking for me.”
“Yes, we’ll be bringing two boys over this afternoon. They were picked up by Interpol and are now being debriefed. When we saw them, they were scared and malnourished. They may have friends here, which would help.”
“I see that O’Shea has brought you up to date on the two boys.”
“Yes, but I’m anxious to get them here so Aaron can check them out. From what O’Shea has said, they’ll be undernourished, and we may have to start them on a different diet. Aaron will sort that out.”
Murray and O’Shea finished their lunch. “We’ll be back soon.”
Taking the opportunity, I got my lunch and sat down at a table with some of the kids. I started to talk to them, asking questions about school and just being a friend. The boys seemed eager to talk to me, and then I realized that I had been so preoccupied with Sanctuary. I forgot the kids. I made a vow from that moment on that I’d share my time with them as much as possible.
When they left, they each touched me; I gave them a hug and a kiss on the head. The smiles they had just drove my guilt deeper.
When I saw Tony later, “Tony, I’ll not be eating my meals with you and Aaron. Today, when I talked to my mom, she realized that I have been spending so much time worrying about Sanctuary that I have forgotten the kids’ needs. Today I had lunch with the kids, and it just made my mom’s point all the more. So from now on, when I’m in the dining hall, I’ll be sitting with the kids. I hope you and Aaron will do the same.”
“I think you’re right, Brad. They don’t look at me the same way they look at you, but I understand where you’re coming from. I think Aaron will as well. I’ll do my best to make these kids feel special.”
“I know a way you can do that?”
“Get that fishing trip organize.”
“I’ve been working on that, but I’m have a difficult time finding a place where the kids could fish safely.”
“Would deep-sea fishing be easier to arrange?”
“It might. I’ll check it out.”
“I think I’m going to take a tour; want to come along with me?”
“I can’t, I need to get these financial records in order, and the staff checks written. I’ll join up with you when I’m done.”
I nodded and left for the cook shack. “Adam, someone told me that you had passed your GED.”
“Yes, I never thought that I would’ve had the chance. Now I need to apply for a scholarship, but I don’t know where I should apply?”
“Let me do that for you. I know some excellent culinary schools in the city would be glad to have you as a student.”
“That’d be great, Brad. But where would I live while I go to school?”
“If the school has a dorm, you could stay there or stay here in your quad. Do you have a driving license?”
“No, I never had the opportunity or the money.”
“Ok, for passing your GED, I’ll pay for driving lessons for you and help you get your driving license. I may need a bus driver I’ll make sure you get some additional training along those lines.”
Adam was a good kid, and being the first to move on gave me a good feeling. I made a note for Tony to see if he could arrange for Adam’s driving lessons and Jeff’s. I continued my walk by visiting the amenities rooms on the floors with the cocoons. I think the kids were surprised to see me. I spent time with them, played one of the board games, and watched a video. They appreciated it, and I enjoyed it much more. Mom’s words kept stirring in the back of my mind. By the time I was done, I had noticed it was getting close to dinner time. I gave each kid a hug and a kiss on the head. Reminding them, it was close to dinner time, I headed for the cook shack.
“Mario, since you’ll be losing Adam as he goes to culinary school, you’ll need to pick someone to help you.”
“The two boys that have been helping in the kitchen might be interested. I’ll check and see if they would be interested. I could use two boys or even three to help now that we seem to be getting more kids.”
“I’ll leave that up to you, Mario just make sure Mrs. Jenkins approves and then let Tony know as he may have to put them on the payroll.”
I made a note to see Mrs. Chester on Monday concerning the aptitude tests and determine where the students are regarding the GED testing.
Entering the dining hall, I realized that I needed to order more tables. The kids were crowded around the tables, with some of the kids standing at the edges. I also felt a little pain from neglecting these small items. I need to give the older kids more responsibility and form a council to look after the kids’ needs and bring forward issues that I’ve been ignoring.
I waited for an opening at a table when I got my dinner and headed in that direction. Again I saw the smiles on the kids’ faces when I sat down. I also noticed that other kids came up to me for a hug, which I freely gave. Looking around after I sat down, I saw Tony and Aaron were sitting among the kids, all so. Silently, thanks, Mom.
“How many of you like to build models?” I got a stare from the kids until a boy at a table overheard me.
“I use to build models of cars. It was fun.”
“Great, how about you telling the kids about building models, and then I’ll get some you all can build. There are boats and planes besides cars as well. I’ll go to the hobby shop and pick up one of each. Jimmy, you can keep a record of their names and their choices. Since you have built them, maybe you could teach them how to do it.”
There were smiles all around. The conversation was heard at the other tables, and as the idea was passed on, the interest grew. I’ll have to figure out a way to showcase their completed models.
When dinner was over, I gave each boy a hug and a kiss on the head. The crowd grew as more and more of the kids came up for a hug and a kiss. I couldn’t have been happier, and I could’ve kicked myself for not doing this sooner. Just as the boys were leaving, Murray and O’Shea entered with two boys. The kids saw this and stopped.
I walked over to Murray and O’Shea, “Brad, this is Leon and Chester.” “Boys, this is Brad who will take care of you from now on.”
Pat and Bubba saw this and came over. “Pat, please go and find Beth. Tell her we have two boys to enroll.”
I shook the hands of the boys. Asking them if they were hungry, Aaron came over after looking over their medical papers, “I’m Aaron. Looking over your medical reports, I think you should head over to the dinner line and load up. Bubba, would you please take them over and show them how we do it.”
When the boys left with Bubba, “Brad, the medical report shows the boys are in good health except for being undernourished. The pasta is loaded in carbs, which will help them. It’ll probably take a few weeks to offset them being undernourished.”
Murray, O’Shea, Aaron, and I went a got a cup of coffee. I set my coffee down next to them and then finished my hugs and head top kisses. I didn’t realize it, but Leon and Chester were watching me.
Pat came in with Beth, and they sat at the table with Bubba and the boys. I watched the interaction for a while, and then I heard the laughter. While they were eating, Beth filled out the enrollment cards.
Tony came into the dining hall. “Tony, I want to bounce an idea off of you, and no, you have to give me your opinion. Some of the boys showed an interest in model crafting. I thought it’s a good idea. I told them I’d go and get a model of the various types and let them choose from which model they wanted to build. Now I was thinking of displaying the finished models in the dining room. What do you think?”
“It’s a good idea, but they’re going to need a different place. Models have to dry and be painted. If they’re in the amenity areas, they could get damaged.”
“We still have a few empty offices. How about converting one of them for the kids to use?”
“They are too small. You will need a large space because I think you’ll have a lot of boys interested. Your dad mentioned putting a second floor in this area. You could put a craft floor at the top and still give you approximately 20 feet of overhead space here.”
“Do you or should I contact Abe?”
“I think you better. You might be surprised. He may already have the drawings just waiting for you to say go ahead.”