When Alex and Emma* arrived at Interval House several years ago, Rubina Khan, Children’s Counsellor Advocate, remembers, they cried and begged to leave. Their mother had been afraid to tell them where they were going and that they weren’t going back home. At 11 and 13, Alex and Emma wanted no part of the shelter or the teasing they knew they would take when their friends found out.
Rubina knew she needed to give them time. She gently took them downstairs to the playroom and let them share with her how they felt. “Please give yourself a few days,” Rubina urged them, “and then I’ll ask you again.”
When in the next few days they both did a complete turnaround and began feeling at home at Interval House, their mother was surprised, but Rubina wasn’t. She’s seen many summers of kids moving through the shelter, and she sensed that Emma and Alex would soon make friends and flourish in the atmosphere of safety and camaraderie.
She was right. Now all grown up and attending college, both Alex and Emma are still in touch. “They think Interval House is amazing,” Rubina says. “They still come back to visit, and they attend the picnic for former residents each year.” And every year, she reminds them with a grin about how hard they tried not to stay.
*Not their real names