I also just finished a few kids groups. I am currently working with an organization that is piloting their own intensive program for children of alcoholics and addicts. A point of frustration for them is the fact that there are so many kids who need the program, but so few end up attending.
Facilitating a group of four kids can be frustrating when you have the capacity to serve twelve. Administration has a difficult time justifying staff resources for such a small group. The temptation to cancel when there are "only" four children attending is strong.
I certainly can relate to this feeling. I've often wondered if I am making any difference. Is it worth it to give the time and energy to such a small group?
As I was unpacking the other day I came across a story. It's a familiar one, written by Loren Eiseley, and has been adapted to many different versions. This is the version I had saved:
The Star Thrower
As an old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him, picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this.
The answer was that the starfish would die if left until the morning sun. "But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish," countered the old man. "How can your effort make any difference?"
The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves.
"It makes a difference to this one," he said.We can get so caught up in numbers. But when working with people we undervalue the contribution we make. It doesn't matter if you reach hundreds or thousands of kids. The fact the you even touch the heart of one is what makes all the difference.