By Mark David, Wood’s Homes Youth & Family Counsellor
I want to share with you an experience I recently had when visiting Wood’s Homes’ Youth Culinary Arts Program (YCAP).
As I was getting ready to work with some of our youth at the Culinary program one morning, I recognized a familiar face I hadn’t seen in a while – it was Jason, a former Evergreen client I worked with. The last time I saw Jason, he was being discharged from Wood’s Homes, and I remember how upset he and his mother were, as it just wasn’t the right time.
I didn’t know what his reaction would be when he saw me or if he would even remember who I am. I said “hello” to him and, once he remembered where he knew me from, he said, “Hey, you’re the director of Evergreen, aren’t you?” I chuckled and replied, “Yes, I was at the Evergreen program, but I was never a director – I was the team leader!” That was the extent of our conversation, as Jason went about his business making pumpkin cake with his YCAP peers.
As the day went on, I observed how Jason worked alongside his peers. I knew one thing was certain – in all his time with the Evergreen program, I never saw him this active unless it involved smoking in his room, arguing with staff or running off campus with other youth.
Fortunately, as we continued into the afternoon, Jason and I got to work together in the ‘dish pit’. As we cleaned and dried the equipment/dishes, I asked Jason how things have been going since the last time I saw him. He replied saying “things are great” because he got to move back in with his family.
As we continued to dry, Jason surprised me by saying, “you know, if I could do Evergreen all over again, I would use it for what it’s supposed to be used for and not screw it up like I did… I wouldn’t have treated it like a hotel. I remember how you used to always say that to me, over and over again.” I think he could sense how shocked I was by his insight and added, “I know what that means looking back now.”
We left the conversation at that and finished our cleaning duties. He left to catch his bus and was on his way. No goodbye.
I wanted to share this experience with you, because stories, like Jason’s, are outcomes we can’t measure in numbers. These are the stories that show how ‘seeds’, planted by our staff, can grow into something wonderful days, months and even years later for the youth we work with.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!