Guest Blog: The Empty Hanger

Written by guest blogger, Director of Prevention and Diversion Rich Jenkins.

There is an empty hanger in my office. It hangs on a barren wall, alone. The surrounding space seems to exert a crushing weight upon it.

The hanger is ever present and never lets go.

It’s resolve and strength are impressive. It waits with spiritual patience and unending hope. Occasionally, someone will ask about my odd choice in wall décor; I simply tell them it is a reminder.

It reminds me of the child who is removed from the only home she has ever known, whisked away to an unknown future. The hanger represents the little boy who feels pain within his own body, but cannot get his drug addicted father to take him to the pediatrician.

It is for the child who hangs in the shadows as his parents fight, argue and hurt each other.

The hanger is a visual prompt, silently telling the story of the child who is molested by her mother’s boyfriend; only to be accused of lying.

It represents the child who is languishing in foster care, not knowing if her parents will ever be able to take her home.

She just hangs on, desperately hoping and praying.

Thin, slightly misshapen, and all alone like the child it represents; the hanger stares out at the world knowing that it has value. Gripping tightly to the knowledge that one day someone will care.

So, when the day gets long and the reports stack up, it only takes a quick glance at that empty hanger to be rejuvenated and urged back into action.


Rich Jenkins has been a dedicated advocate of child welfare for decades. Since joining Eckerd Kids five years ago, he’s served in a number of positions, including as the director of prevention and diversion.

In his off time, Jenkins is a certified SCUBA diver and licensed pilot who enjoys exploring his natural surroundings.