When you’re working with at-risk youth, you have to be able to recognize–and be proud of–the
small achievements. My work with Liam * (*fictitious name to protect the identity of the client),
gave me plenty of opportunities to practice this philosophy. He was a teenager when we
started working together.
Liam faced his fair share of struggles and losses in his short time of life. He was unable to
access many of the foster care benefits for which he was eligible. On more than one occasion,
he told me he did not want a mentor. Liam spent several months living in many different places
and often refused help from those who wanted to help him. But finally, one day he agreed to
meet with a new mentor. The first meeting went really well. The conversation filled the air and
their meeting lasted for hours. After the successful meeting, Liam agreed to be matched with
this mentor, but the work was just beginning.
Since the match, Liam worked with his mentor to create some strong and time-bound
appropriate goals, he moved into a stable home, acquired a safe vehicle, enrolled to complete
GED and plans to pursue college. Liam participates in a Youth Board and has been taking
planning and communications responsibilities. This is the best that I have seen him do since I
started with YIT. He is transitioning into who he was meant to be.
It’s easy to let someone push you away and believe it’s because they want nothing to do with
you. However, when working with at-risk individuals, or those who have a traumatic history,
often the youth is just testing your limits and seeing if you really care. I am glad to see my
persistence paid off.