June is traditionally a month of love as many couples choose this month for their weddings. The world also just witnessed a royal wedding and an amazing sermon. You may or may not have seen it, but the words of Reverend Michael Curry have been spread throughout the news. He spoke on the power of love. He said, “There's power in love. There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love, to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There's power in love to show us the way to live.” When I talk about the work done at Eckerd Connect E-Nini-Hassee, I talk of the power of love to transform the lives of all who live and work there. I hear our Executive Director; Jo Lynn Smith speak about getting the hearts of these girls right. She says if she can do one thing to change the outcome for adolescent girls, it is give them the courage to love themselves again. They can then leave with an open heart and take that love and spread it to everyone they touch. Teaching love is a process and it begins with learning how to trust again. When a new camper arrives at E-Nini-Hassee, she is assigned to a group of 10-12 girls. Each group is led by a chief who will shepherd that group 5 days a week, all day, all night. The goal is to build up these girls who often come to us broken and very often distrustful of adults. The camper also has her group who becomes a family to her over the average 8 month stay. It makes sense that creating a family environment of consistency and accountability will foster love.
Just as Reverend Curry so beautifully said in his sermon, “there is power in love to help and heal when nothing else can”, sometimes these girls just need to have a second chance at love, and give themselves a second chance at loving themselves. This is the power to change, and the power to heal.