Horizons for Homeless Children: Being a PAL to a Child in Need

(NECN: Latoyia Edwards) - Colleen Daly and 4-year-old Navaehh have been great friends for a number of years.

"Navaehh is delightful," said Colleen. "She is a true joy to have in the playroom."

Every Monday, inside the playroom at Margaret's house in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, Navaehh can count on her PAL - Playspace activity leader - to read her books or work with her on arts and crafts.

"They'll know that I'm going to be there with a smile, and wanting to hear about their day, play with them, just give them an opportunity to have some nice, structured play," said Colleen. "Give them some positive reinforcement."

On any given day, at 151 homeless shelters across the state, volunteers like Colleen are giving children the opportunity to just be kids.

Each Horizons for Homeless Children's Playspace is stocked with books, developmental toys and art supplies.

Horizons started the program in 1990 with the belief that play is essential for every child's development. Weekly, more than 2,700 children visit Horizons' Playspaces statewide, and everytime they enter, a PAL is there to greet them.

"It's been a joy watching her come out of her shell a little bit, and she's just a delight," said Colleen. "It has truly been the most rewarding experience I've ever had. People always say to me, 'Gosh, you've been doing that for so long,' and I really get so much out of it. I feel like I get as much out of it as the children do."

PALs give children the consistency they need in their lives and gain so much in return.

Would you like to be a PAL to a homeless child? Learn more here.

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