By Erin Porteous, CEO

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.”  

This quote by Jodi Picoult is one that I have been thinking about often over the past week as we collectively reckon with a growing global crisis that has altered our lives and our psyches. We are uncertain and vulnerable, watching and wondering, not knowing what the next minute, hour or day will hold. And it reminds me how much we can learn about resilience from our children. 

By Erin Porteous, CEO

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.”  

This quote by Jodi Picoult is one that I have been thinking about often over the past week as we collectively reckon with a growing global crisis that has altered our lives and our psyches. We are uncertain and vulnerable, watching and wondering, not knowing what the next minute, hour or day will hold. And it reminds me how much we can learn about resilience from our children. 

For many of our Club kids, every day is a new set of challenges due to circumstances and threats beyond their control, such as poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and inequitable cultural barriers. These are the kind of daily exigencies that exist on all days ending in “y.” On sunny days. On parade days. On national championship days. On bull market days. Even on days that are prescribed and mandated for happiness, like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, the winter holidays and so-called Hallmark holidays – for some of which our kids have no frame of reference, such as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.

While we at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver accept with great honor and care our role in creating opportunities for our kids, by helping remove barriers and providing access to resources delivered by trusted role models and staff, there is one thing we can never do: we can never take that courageous first step for them. That first step through low self-esteem. That first step through an unpredictable home life. That first step toward another day with the ache of an empty belly and a world spinning around them that, on their worst days, can make them feel invisible and without a voice. 

When our kids step into a Club, they get there on their own, self-powered by resilience. And when they walk through our doors, we have the cherished privilege of harnessing their resilient spirits by ushering them into an atmosphere of safety, trust, imagination, exploration and fun. In short, we invite them to set aside the exigencies of the day and let them be kids again. Kids with unlimited potential. Kids who flourish not in spite of their circumstances, but because of them. 

We are enormously proud of our kids’ daily achievements in academics, their demonstrations of strong character and citizenship, and their healthy lifestyle choices. As I reflect on their successes in the still-early onset of our global crisis, I am reminded, through the example of our extraordinary children, that personal resilience can empower and guide us to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. By focusing on what’s in front of us. By accepting what we can control, and by having the courage to face uncertainty with faith and grit. By remembering what we, as adults, remind our children every day: keep it simple. Make good choices. And remember to ask for help. 

As an organization, we are living and breathing these values every minute of every day. I am working alongside our staff, our Board, local government and our community partners to ensure that not only will we be ready when our Clubs reopen, but that we are doing everything we can to meet the needs of our kids, families and community right now. Though the news is changing hour by hour, our commitment to our Club kids and families is unwavering — just as it has been for nearly 60 years, and as it will be for the next 60.

As we move forward through these uncharted waters together, I am reminded daily of our collective resilience. Of the kindness, generosity and grace that often lies just below the surface when we are distracted by the normalcy of the every day. These days are decidedly not normal. But I am both resolute and confident in our ability to bend and not break.