Coworker Corner: Abraham Carreon

Coworker Corner: Abraham Carreon

Abraham Carreon didn’t have a lot of guidance growing up—but he’s determined to ensure that the young people at Mercy Home will.

As a senior youth care worker in Speh Home, Abraham guides our youngest boys—ages 11-14.

“Our day-to-day is to help the guys get through their days,” he explained.

But even more importantly, he builds relationships.

“[It’s about] the relationships that you build with the youth and the family and [I] help the family navigate [certain] things and help them build a structure,” he said.

Structure is especially important in the younger programs, particularly because many of our young people did not grow up in a home with it.

“A lot of these kids in our age group, they’re missing a lot of these tools to even navigate these basic expectations that we don’t even see,” he said. “[For us], a lot of them are second nature…[but] for a lot of these guys, that’s something that they have been missing up to the point [they arrive at Mercy Home].”

Aside from structure, another important element to build in program is friendships and strong bonds among the kids and coworkers. “We really try to build a strong culture with camaraderie and a sustainable structure where they [succeed] and try to help them [build necessary skills],” Abraham said.

From the way Abraham speaks confidently of treatment plans for our kids, you probably wouldn’t guess that he had no background in residential care before coming to Mercy Home.

Though he has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Abraham admits that he went through school not really knowing what he wanted to do. Instead, he often found himself just going with the flow. Even in high school, he said he was left to his own devices. The only thing he knew for sure was that he liked sports.

“[It’s about] the relationships that you build with the youth and the family and [I] help the family navigate [certain] things and help them build a structure.”

It wasn’t until he went to college that he started receiving some ideas about what he could do with his future.

“Some of the professors I had there, they gave me feedback about how intellectual they thought I was and that they … would like to see me writing,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was a strong writer. I didn’t have a strong interest in it.”

Even so, Abraham decided that would pursue a degree in journalism with the hopes of being a broadcast sports journalist—something that would combine his love for sports with his professors’ recommendations.

After graduating, he worked at a neighborhood newspaper, “Our Neighborhood Times,” covering sports at local schools. But when funding for the newspaper fell apart, Abraham decided to look for something else.

During his final year of college at Roosevelt University, Abraham was the student manager for the school’s basketball team, working with students aged 18-21, and “absolutely loved it.” With this in mind, he jumped at the opportunity to become the assistant coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team at St. Francis de Sales High School. He also began working for a company called We Got Game, where he ran different sports programs for kids. As part of that job, he taught physical education to kindergarten to eighth grade students in various schools.

Through these different jobs, Abraham knew that his passion, and, ultimately, his calling was to work in youth development. Because his time with the kids he worked with was so limited, he decided to look for opportunities to “be in the trenches.” In 2017, he connected with Mercy Home and was ultimately offered a position as a youth care worker. He’s been here for nearly three years now.

Working in Speh Home, a place with kids he describes as “very high energy,” brings Abraham back to memories of his own childhood.

“At their age, I feel like I was very hyperactive and had a lot of untapped energy, misguided energy and I didn’t really know where to channel it,” he remembered.

“I try to teach [the kids] that there are to channel that.”

Even so, the energy in the home is nonstop, and Abraham credits his patience and own high-energy personality as the way he’s able to keep up. And keeping up with our kids is definitely something he enjoys.

“There’s just fulfillment, a joy to see them [do] the smallest things, the smallest achievements,” he said. “It sounds so cliché, but I’m hoping that, because I didn’t have a lot of guidance, I’m hoping that I can inspire [just] one person or one youth. [I want to teach them that] everyone has their own path. … They learn from what they see, so I’m hoping they can see enough from me that they can take something from that that someday they can pass on.”

When Abraham thinks about his time at Mercy Home, the word that immediately comes to his mind is “grateful.”

“It sounds so cliché, but I’m hoping that, because I didn’t have a lot of guidance, I’m hoping that I can inspire [just] one person or one youth. I want to teach them that everyone has their own path.”

“[During] my time here, I learned more about myself than I ever did in my whole life before that,” he said. “A lot of that comes from working with the youth that I do. It’s definitely the relationship building and the relationships I’ve [also] built with staff.

“There’s so much I’ve learned about myself in the time that I’ve been here [and] I think I’ve grown so much in the time that I’ve been here.”

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