My husband and I recently visited Fall Creek Falls State Park in Middle Tennessee. The sound of water splashing over the falls refreshes me, and I was in need of refreshment. What we didn't realize was that the trail to the Falls is steep and treacherous. It is not for the faint-hearted as it plunges into the deep gorge at a precipitous rate. And, the trail isn't paved; it isn't even dirt. It's rocks. The majority of the trail is littered with boulders of varying sizes that must be clambered over or side-stepped with great care, without the benefit of a handrail or even a conveniently placed tree. Let's just say that it is challenging going down and breath taking going up. Literally, breath taking.
As we picked our way down and then slowly, slowly climbed our way up, I philosophized that this rocky trail is a good metaphor for many of our friends who come to The Branch for help. The path that left them in a place of need rather than a place of plenty was probably not smooth. Many hit bumps such as little or poor education, lack of support systems at home and in the community, difficulty in speaking a new language, and navigating a world that is completely strange to them. For these and other reasons, they find themselves at the bottom of a deep gorge, needing to get up in order to flourish, but looking at the rocky path that they must climb.
They need help, just as I clung to my husband's hand to help me over some of the largest and slickest boulders. I didn't need help all the time, but there were places that would have been dangerous for me without his strength to support me. I like to think that The Branch is that kind of support. We are a strong hand to lend aid when a family has to choose between paying the bills and putting food on the table. We give a hand up to those who are making a new life for their families, away from the turmoil of their homeland, but stuck, looking at the boulder of learning a new language in order to get a well-paying job. We joyfully give our strength to support those in our community who need us, and we would be honored if you joined with us.