Welcome Back: Gathering Around the Table
By Erica Clark, an MHS houseparent
The table in our dining room is large. Actually, it’s a group of tables—five to be exact. We placed them together to create one large table that’s big enough to fit all of us, but small enough to feel cozy.
For six weeks over the summer, those tables sat empty. We had a few guys stay over the summer, but not the full 12. The tables sat … and sat … and sat until they were finally brought back to life last month!
All 12 of our students came back on a Sunday and it was wonderful.
My husband and I spent hours, days, and weeks talking, planning, and organizing. Getting everything from room assignments to bulletin boards ready so the guys would feel welcomed and loved when they walked through the door.
The first day back at MHS is always a paradox of sorts. We’re so excited to have the students back, but parents/sponsors are sad to say goodbye. It’s sometimes tough to navigate the myriad of emotions that take place on the first day. The minutes seemed to drag on until the guys started arriving, and slowly but surely, the noise level returned to what we consider “normal.” As we heard giggling down the hall and chatting about their summers, it brought joy to our hearts.
After thanking and saying goodbye to the loving group of parents/sponsors, we all headed inside.
And we gathered. We gathered around the table. We looked around and saw what our house will look like this year. And then we prayed. We thanked God for the blessing of family, Milton Hershey School, good food, and a home away from home.