My Turn, Vernon Walters: No empty Christmases at Nazareth

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 11, 2022

It’s Christmas morning. You’re 11 years old. You’re in a strange place. You’ve never had a real Christmas morning before, ones like you see on television with lights and bows and toys and laughter.

But there hasn’t been a lot of laughter in your 11 years. Home life has been tumultuous. Mom and Dad struggle providing for you, taking care of you. They tried sending you off to grandparents and uncles and aunts, but that hasn’t worked

Finally, it all becomes too much for your parents. And that’s how you end up here at Nazareth Child & Family Connection this morning, facing yet another empty Christmas day, but what’s worse is you are surrounded by strangers.

Sounds pretty horrific doesn’t, especially for an 11-year-old?

One thing is for sure, though, there are no empty Christmases at Nazareth and our children are never surrounded by strangers. Once a child arrives here, regardless of the time of the year, we do our very best to bring a sense of normalcy and comfort to their lives. That’s the way it has been done here for over 115 years.

We have an amazing staff here at Nazareth. They are diligent year around, but Christmas and children away from home … that’s an additional motivation. On the clinical side, they look for any signs that a young person is having an especially difficult time and do everything possible to help settle their situation.

Then there is the personal side, the loving and caring side. Our staff understands Christmas season is our chance to prove to these kids that warm, joyful Christmases don’t happen just in the movies, that they, too can have lives full of love, joy, and laughter, and yes, even presents.

We hope that the Christmas love and joy will become a year-around presence in these youngsters’ lives. We want to see them thrive and become a vital part of our community as adults. And we want them to spread that Christmas love and joy to their families. That would be an awesome Christmas story!


Vernon Walters Jr. is president and CEO of Nazareth Child & Family Connection.