One is the need to feel loved.
This need and how to meet it was a highlighted topic of the Cleveland Ministerial Association.
Meeting Wednesday at Havenplace on First Street downtown, pastors and nonprofit leaders heard about the work the organization is doing to help teen-agers and young adults in their 20s.
Dr. John Vining of Youth Counseling Services also shared insights from his latest book, “Becoming Childwise: Discovering the Heart of Parenting.”
“Last year when I was writing this book, I had no idea that within months of it being published that this book would be (needed) and would relate to what (my grandchildren) are now experiencing in their home, which is now a busted home. A father who decided to take a hike,” Vining said.
He said the experience has been an “amazing observation but a distressing observation to see how the lights in a 5-year-old’s eyes have gone out,” Vining said.
Vining said he wrote the book on a readable level so parents of those who are served by his counseling center could “understand and grasp the principles of it.”
While many parenting books focus on changing a child’s behavior, Vining said his book focuses on issues of the child’s heart.
“I read one time that ‘It is out of the heart that the mouth speaks,’” Vining said. “It is what is in the heart that motivates the behavior of children and of adults alike.”
Every person has two essential needs — the need for attachment and the need for meaning, Vining said. When these are not met a person’s behavior reflects the situation.
In his book, Vining outlines essentials of the heart that stem from these two basic needs, and explains to parents how to meet them.
“When that happens, behavior will often self correct,” Vining said. “It is when one heart hooks to a hurting heart that the grace of God is mediated, and healing and wholeness have a chance.”
Vining said part of meeting these needs is parents having “four essential contacts” with their children: visual, verbal, physical and emotional.
“Just because we live under the same roof doesn’t mean that any of those things are happening,” Vining said.
He said putting a bandage on a broken heart or medicating a child for behavior does not solve the root of the problem. He said it is the word of God that can heal a broken heart.
The book also seeks to debunk the myth that divorce does not have a lasting effect on children because “they are resilient.” Vining said divorce has a great impact on children, even adult children whose parents have divorced.
Vining also addresses tough love for adult children who choose to stay at home without making an effort to grow up.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the Ministerial Association presented a donation to the organization.
Director Brian Tallent said the donation would go toward bills, such as rent or utilities.
Havenplace was created 14 years ago as a resource for teenagers in the community.
“Our unknown target was the at-risk teenagers and young adults,” Tallent said. “ We discovered a huge homeless population between the late teenagers and the early 20-somethings. We found kids who had never heard the words ‘I love you.’ That is impossible to comprehend until you sit there and hear them say it.”
Tallent said the organization is committed to showing these young people love through words and actions. An art program also allows them to express their feelings and “get out their frustrations” on canvas.
“We try to show them that despite where they are ... there is something better out there,” Tallent said.
He said the organization partners with many in the community for more specific needs.
Society needs to put more value on people than it puts on acquiring material possessions, he said.
Havenplace is open on Tuesday, from 6 to 11 p.m., and Thursday, from 8 to 11 p.m.
A church service is also offered on Sundays nights.
“They are very surprised when they come in and they find out that we are Christians,” Tallent said.
In the 14 years Havenplace has been open, its operators have seen many lives changed.
Tallent said he knows there are young people who have stayed out of jail and broken drug addictions as a result of coming to Havenplace.
“People ask me if I have any kids and I tell them about 80,” Tallent said.
Havenplace board member Jesus Trujillo challenged those present to become involved, and encouraged their congregations to volunteer.
“We don’t need benchwarmers — we need the action. We need real Christians. We need people who are willing to love,” Trujillo said. “Cleveland needs you. The children need you.”
Those interested in volunteering can contact Tallent at firstname.lastname@example.org.