How Walnut Hill provides stability to a community in need.
It’s 6:40 on a Monday morning and the Bergholz’s home is already in full motion. Sarah’s hair, still dripping from her shower, leaves an imprint, growing on her maroon scrubs top.
Someone takes excessively long steams in the morning before she gets up, despite her constant refrain to stop. Her broken, green Revlon pressed powder compact has seen better days, but she applies it conservatively to both cheeks and lightly taps the tip of her nose. David squeezes behind her and makes his way to the opposite end of the mirror. He opens a black jar of pomade and applies it to his fingertips. A few tugs at his slightly-receding brown hairline and he seems contented.
The background noise is a dense fog. Storybots twang away at a song that seems to depict how potatoes become french fries. Children’s voices, sometimes murmurs, escalate to the occasional piercing scream. Footsteps reveal Mason and Michaela‘s movements about the house; crescendoing until a half-naked figure blurs past the bathroom door, another slightly more clothed one chasing it. Mason, 4, hadn’t quite gotten himself fully dressed before starting to torture his sister.
The light spring of a toaster, the distant bassy slam of a bedroom door, the zip of a backpack…all worked today in unison, rhythmic, like the beginning of a Stomp routine. David quickly exited the bathroom, hooked Mason with one arm, slung him over his shoulder, and headed back to the kids’ room. Sarah dropped her compact, leaving a ring of pale powder on the vanity, and tracked down Michaela. She looked at her teal Fitbit to reveal 6:51. She had exactly 24 minutes to finish the morning routine, get in her car, and get to Goshen Middle School before the kids piled through the doors. Grape jelly and butter on an english muffin for Michaela. Marmalade with no butter on wheat toast for Mason.
Tick, tick, tick. She had internalized this morning time clock already and she knew she had it timed out to the nanosecond. One dropped piece of toast, one missing post-shower towel, one crazy 2-year old bumping their head… and Sarah would be late. David acted aloof, but the same internal clock ticked away in his head. It’s now 7:02, Sarah was on her way to work, and David was a single-parent for the next 38 or so minutes. His responsibilities were simple, but added a ton of weight to his routine. He remembers the days before the munchkins had entered his life. When he could roll out of bed 15 minutes before work, and still clock in without a problem. Back then, his list of responsibilities was short.
Nowadays things are different. He has a mortgage, credit cards, two car payments, cell phones, and piano lessons. He wouldn’t trade those munchkins for the world, but bills were piling up, Christmas was looking sparse, and retirement accounts were the punchline of a joke.
He received a letter just a few months ago, informing him that life was about to get a bit easier. Both Mason and Michaela were moved off of the waitlist and accepted with full tuition covered to an early childhood center. He could resume full-time work, Sarah could commit further to her students, and they both could finally save as a family–giving themselves a much-needed safety net.