The Title of this blog?
It has nothing to do with us. Rather, it has everything to do with a group of people who care enough to wade through the human filth of child abuse and rescue those needing them long ago.
The Settlement Home is founded by 450 caring Austin and Central Texas women. They have built a place of safety and healing for girls that have seen the ugliest side of human nature...the side that cares only for satisfying a dark and uncaring id.
Don't ask me to be any more specific, rage is not far from me as I write this.
Mike Downing, the RTC Director called me last Wednesday. He wanted to know if his non-profit qualified for our assistance. Mike was about 1/3 of the way through his pitch when I stopped him.
"When can I come out and look the place over? We'll be glad to help you."
As Mike spoke, I Googled The Settlement Home. Something deep in the muck of memory was struggling to get oxygen...it struck me soon enough. And no, we won't go into the revelation...suffice it to say that there are some real-life hero's working within this system and I know who they are.
Not that it matters...it simply speaks to me the character of this place. These people wouldn't be there if it wasn't a place of healing.
I arrived at the Settlement Home at 10 am that next Saturday. I was met by Heather Siegfried, Youth Care Coordinator, and Brooke Fell, Support Services Coordinator. They walked me to the Administration building to meet the guy that was going to be our partner in this project.
His name is Ben Garcia and he is the Network Administrator for The Settlement Home. Ben fit my stereotype of a Professional Geek immediately. He was quiet, and when he spoke it was with precise focus on what he wanted to communicate without any fluff. His gaze was as intense as his knowledge of what he does.
I had dreaded this meeting for the entire span of time between Mike's phone call and the present moment.
The moment I had to tell this Network Administrator that I was going to use Linux exclusively for the project. I was ready for the argument when it came time to bring it forward.
Heather, Brooke and Ben walked me into the first dorm so I could see the physical layout of the work areas. All the dorms are basically the same so I could make sketches from this one and pretty much have an idea of the other three buildings. Some of the girls peeked in cautiously as we spoke.
There would be a total of 12 computers needed. Each room in each dorm had 3 girls residing within. We would supply 1 computer for every three-girl dorm room. As I made notes of the layout, I nonchalantly cleared my throat and addressed Ben.
"We're going to be installing Linux on these machines Ben, is that going to cause you any problems?"
I finished my sketch in the next two seconds and looked up to see his physical response.
"No, that's all I run here."
I was just about overwhelmed with relief and I raised my hand in a high-five invitation and couldn't help but show my delight.
We completed the male ritual with unpracticed awkwardness. It was about 5 minutes into the rapid-fire back and forth about distros, servers, Kernels and networking stuff that I noticed the female portion of our group had left.
I can't blame them...male bonding can be a bit embarrassing. Especially Geek male bonding.
Ben took me immediately into the server room. He has been at The Settlement Home since 1999 and is one of the shortest term employee's at the home. The Executive Director, Linda Kokemor, just celebrated her 28th year there. The Settlement Home doesn't have any employee turnover. The people that work there are dedicated and loving people who love what they do...and they love each and every girl there as if they were their own.
Some of them do not make that an easy task. There are some extremely troubled girls within this Place of Hope.
Because of the sensitive nature of the clientèle and staff, the network there is hardened to steel-cased proportions. I watched and listened in awe as Ben showed me his work...work that had taken a decade to do. He built this elaborate and effective network from the ground up and it is a model of professionalism and pride. I spent the better part of three hours with Ben, walking the grounds, meeting the staff and the girls that live there...
The girls that are healing from some of the most atrocious wounds anyone can imagine.
Wounds of the Spirit.
So the HeliOS Project is going into The Settlement Home and we are going to provide these girls with the best we can give them. Mike, you and your staff honor us by allowing us to complete this task. We will spare nothing to make sure they have everything they need...no skimping, no short cuts. This will certainly tax our already critical need for wireless adapters but we will proceed as if all our needs will be met.
We are going to match the thing that The Settlement home gives them most.
We are going to give them Love.
many thanks to metallixfaker for the use of his fantastic art...Tattered Teddy Bear
Thursday, April 16, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 8:26 PM