We’ve tentatively accepted a new kid into Crecer! He’s young and spunky and everything is exciting to him. He plays soccer to his little heart’s delight, is learning the ins and outs of the wii remotes, and gobbles down Teresa’s cooking in roughly four bites. He just clicks. Until he’s asked to do a chore. Or take turns. Or share the soccer ball with someone when he would rather play by himself. That’s when the waterworks and the, “I’m never coming back here again!” begin. And it takes a while for me to remind myself about this crazy process that we’re all about.

We try as best as we can to be something sure. We have set hours, a standing invitation to certain kids, and love and encouragement to offer. At times, we struggle because of the very stability we try to retain. Our biggest goal becomes our biggest obstacle because of the lack of assurance in our kids’ lives. And yet, they are so worthy of the very thing they push back against, so how can we not continue to push and fight for them to know it?


I recently ran into a young mom who I’ve known for years. I first met her and her husband before they had their first son. She comes up to my waist and can’t possibly weigh more than 100 pounds. She is kind and loving, and loved doing puzzles alongside me and the kids I used to visit on the street. Through the years, my life took turns which resulted in running Crecer full time. I lost touch with her until one day last week as I was driving past the very same gas station where we would do all those puzzles years ago. I saw her carrying a little bundle of a baby and made the most illegal turn I’ve ever made while driving to get to the gas station.

“Jilli!” she yelled while simultaneously shoving her newborn baby into my very hesitant and awkward arms. “Meet Genesis! I finally have a daughter!”

As we sat and chatted and I awkwardly rocked Genesis back and forth, she asked where I had been all these years. I talked about Crecer and we talked about the kids we both know. I asked about her husband and her two sons, and she motioned to the boulevard. “They’re down there probably getting ready for bed.”

My heart sank. She and her husband are still begging on the street. Her oldest son is almost four. She has a newborn baby. She’s at the very same gas station where I used to see her years ago. I think of where our Crecer girls were years ago and how much has changed. But seeing this young mom…it’s like time has stood still.

I think of Deysi, who I met when she used to beg on the street. Four years ago, when I met her, she was a different child. Now she’s finishing her second consecutive year of school with us. I think of Soila, Deysi’s best friend whose life is determined by where her parents decide to move every few months. I think of how, despite the uncertainties in their lives, being with their families is still the best option for them. And yet, there are gaping holes that we are desperately trying to fill with love and assurance and as much stability as we can muster.

Rocking Genesis hit me like a pound of bricks. I couldn’t help but think about where Soila and Deysi could be if they weren’t Crecer kids. The disagreements we’ve had and the insults they’ve hurled and the angsty attitudes have all been a part of what has brought them to where they are. And their strength, intelligence, and the opportunities to succeed are what will keep them moving forward.

So when I want to hit my head against the wall for the ninth time when our new kid refuses to mop, I’ll remember to look at our other kids who have already done their chores without being asked. I’ll look at Emer, who has never missed a day at Crecer. I’ll look at this picture of myself with Deysi and Soila and remember that nothing in their lives is rushed; nothing is a quick fix. But there is so much importance in investing in their lives.


This year, our goal is to raise $30,000 for Crecer and Proniño. $15,000 of that goal will go towards a variety of needs to keep up the work we’re doing in Crecer for 2018. It will ensure that our kids have access to therapy, education, a hot meal every day, among other things. But most importantly, it will ensure that we can continue to invest in the lives of the kids we love so much. Kids like Soila and Deysi who are surpassing all expectations. Help us continue to stand in awe of how they’re growing and changing by visiting tchproject.org/sharing-joy to make your donation.

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