Research shows that homelessness traumatizes children as it negatively impacts a child's brain development.
Andover couple Steve and Louise Root were alarmed by that and have stepped up to help.
The Roots are volunteers for Horizons for Homeless Children and are having an impact on the lives of children experiencing homelessness in Lawrence. They were among several volunteers with Horizons for Homeless Children who were recognized during the recent National Volunteer Week (April 7-13).
Two hours a week, they visit a Lawrence shelter were several kids, ages 3 to 10, eagerly await their arrival.
"We just try to get normalcy in their lives. We play games, read books and spend time with the kids. It's great," said Steve Root, who works in tech sales.
His wife, Louise Root, said she gets a good feeling after helping out and loves to watch the young boys react to her husband.
"He's a role model for them. The shelter is for mothers and children only so the boys love to see Steve. He kicks a soccer ball with them and they love it," she said. "Plus, the moms get a little break when we are there and it's good for them."
The parents of three adult children, the Roots were required to take training sessions that focused on learning about the challenges of abuse and homelessness. They have been volunteering at the shelter for almost two years.
"Just playing and interacting with the kids means so much to them," Steve said.
The Roots, who have lived on Hidden Road since 1990, volunteer as Playspace Activity Leaders (PAL) for Horizons for Homeless Children. There are approximately 16,000 children under six living with homelessness in Massachusetts. They are volunteers for the Northeastern Mass region where there are over 300 children in need across 24 shelters.
"We wanted to do something and I love kids so this is perfect," Louise Root said. "I would definitely recommend this program."