I had an assignment last week where you walk in not excited because you think you’re just taking pictures of empty rooms, but then realize how big the story actually is. I ended up staying at the Laura Dester Shelter all day. I made a little micro essay about it. Here’s what I wrote:
When I arrived at the Laura Dester Shelter for an assignment Wednesday, I met three brothers, ages 10, 11 and 12, who had just arrived at the shelter the night before. They wanted more than anything for me to dance with them, take their picture and play on my iPhone.
The Tulsa shelter for abused and neglected children is expected to close around January. When I asked the boys what they liked about the shelter, the middle brother told me: “They have fun places here and Xbox. This place is happy.”
“This is like heaven for them,” said Phyllis Williams, a direct care specialist at Laura Dester Shelter. “It’s a safe place.”
I could see that. Though these children had differing backstories, you could see how much they would light up being around people who cared about them.
Williams cares so much for one of the girls she takes care of every day, that she wishes she could foster her in her own home.
I wish everyone could see how great the staff works with the children. How Phyllis Williams knows before anyone else that one of the girls doesn’t feel well and might have a seizure. How the three brothers joke and dance and say they want to marry a tomato.
I wish they could see the immense value that this place holds, not just for the children, but for everyone who walks through its doors.
You can see how to World ran it, though for some reason it says it was by my boss John Clanton, here: http://www.tulsaworld.com/seen-the-kids-at-laura-dester/article_9b9eef3c-fa22-50f5-8e27-2039b75633aa.html