I have a 13-year-old boy on my caseload, we will call him AJ. After his mother died, he was removed from his father for physical abuse and moved into a residential facility for a year and a half. AJ was eventually placed with a great uncle who had no idea whether he would be able to adopt AJ.
On one of my visits at the beginning of the summer, AJ told me that he was saving money to buy a motorized dirt bike. This is something that he and I have in common—and can talk about for hours. AJ was so proud to tell me that he had started his own lawn mowing business and was mowing 7 lawns in the neighborhood. He then told me that he was walking to these jobs pushing his mower, carrying his weed whacker, and the gas can to refill them.
I went home that night and talked to my husband. He reminded me that a few years ago one of my son’s friends had made himself a cart that he pulled behind his bike to haul his lawn equipment. I contacted my son’s friend and he informed me that he had sold the cart. However, he would be happy to make one for AJ. We talked about all of the features that it would need and he told me that it would be much easier for AJ to haul the trailer with a mountain bike. Unfortunately, AJ’s only bike was a BMX bike. I decided to send an email request asking if the agency could purchase a mountain bike for AJ. In less than 5 minutes, I received a reply authorizing the purchase of a mountain bike. I went out that night and bought it.
The following week my son’s friend had an awesome trailer made for AJ. I took the bike and trailer to AJ that weekend. He was surprised and overcome with emotion. He told me he had not been that happy in a very long time and that he “doesn’t cry” as he hugged me. He told me that he had never had a new bike in his life and didn’t understand why we would do this for him. I told him that we were very proud of him for working hard and that we wanted to help make his job easier.
I talked to him a week later and he had already obtained a couple additional lawns to mow. Yes, this definitely made a difference for AJ, however, I only played a small part. AOI made a difference for AJ, as well as my son’s awesome friend.
Long before AJ received the new bike, he made a comment that I will always remember. It was at the end of one of our visits after I had known him for several months. He looked at me and said, “thank you for not being social workie. I actually really like you.” Of course, after he received the bike, he told me that he liked me even more. I’m happy to be part of an organization that helps children heal.