Coworker Corner: Francisco Adame
At the heart of Francisco Adame’s passion for his job as a youth care worker at Mercy Home is the desire to give back.
“I’ve always had a passion to work with youth that society seems to neglect,” he said. “When I was getting my justice studies degree, [I took a class] that exposed me to a lot of the struggles that young people in the city face. [I grew] up around it too; I didn’t grow up in the best area. We had our challenges, so I always wanted to know how to give back to my community. I knew I wanted to make a career out of it.”
Since then, Francisco has been relentless in his drive to make a difference in the lives of young people. Before coming to our Home, he worked as a juvenile probation officer for three years. In that role, he worked as an advocate for the young people who ended up in court. Recognizing that there was a need, he started several programs to provide them with extra support, like helping them do their community service hours or making sure they had proper clothing to wear to court.
“One time, a kid came in wearing a tank top to court,” he remembered. “I was like, oh I need to start a program where we have clothes [available] for our youth. So I started a program where I got a lot of donated clothes from other probation officers for the youth to make sure all our boys had proper attire for court.”
Francisco also started a job skills program so that the young people could learn valuable skills like how to write resumes and participate in mock interviews. Because there wasn’t enough funding to pay Francisco for all the extra work he did, he instead volunteered his time because he felt these programs were crucial.
“It’s easy to get complacent in your role and just go day to day,” he said. “I didn’t want that. That’s why I did those programs outside of my duties. Just shuffling paperwork around and seeing a kid once a month for a two-minute check-in wasn’t going to do it for me.”
Eventually, Francisco decided he wanted to serve young people in a different capacity: through non-profits. In addition to working at Mercy Home, he also worked at New Life Centers, which serves high-risk youth in the Little Village neighborhood. He also volunteers as a youth mentor. Francisco eventually decided to settle at Mercy Home as a youth care worker because he loved the support system we provide our kids.
This decision had a personal aspect involved—Francisco himself lived in a group home as a young person and knew firsthand the benefit it has on kids who commit to the program.
“I knew the benefits of a structured environment [and] having multi-tiered systems of support,” he said. “When I was 11 to 12, I went to a program like that, and I was extremely successful. When I came back [home], I was right on track. I knew what a place like Mercy Home could do … and I wanted to be part of something like that.”
When I was 11 to 12, I went to a program like [Mercy Home], and I was extremely successful. When I came back [home], I was right on track. I knew what a place like Mercy Home could do … and I wanted to be part of something like that.
– Francisco Adame, Youth Care Worker
Francisco came to Mercy Home three and a half years ago and has held various youth care positions since. He has worked both as a support staff and full-time youth care worker, as well as an overnight youth care worker. Right now, he is attending Ohio State University to get his master’s degree in social work, so he is working part-time as a support staff.
As a youth care worker, Francisco does many things to support the young people in our care. He acts as an advocate for them, helps them with their schoolwork, with transportation, and makes sure they have a safe space to be themselves at Mercy Home.
“It’s hard to encompass [everything youth care workers do],” he explained. “It’s just making sure [the kids] are engaged and playing a positive role model at the same time, making sure everything runs smoothly in program. And [helping] the kids through trauma, through crises, that’s a big one. It’s showing them that we’re there supporting them, caring for them.”
Francisco said that his experience in a group home has also helped him relate to the struggles our kid face.
“I don’t know their personal experience, but sometimes I tell them I was in a similar position to you, and I understand the stress you’re going through, and I understand it’s difficult to lose your friends or your support network,” he said. “And to be in a structured environment, it’s very hard. So when they are in crisis, I’m able to connect in that way.”
I don’t know their personal experience, but sometimes I tell them I was in a similar position to you, and I understand the stress you’re going through, and I understand it’s difficult to lose your friends or your support network.
Francisco has also enjoyed working with our coworkers during his time here, explaining that having a group of people working toward the same mission is what has made it such a special experience.
“Having support from my manager, Keli [Shllaku, the program manager of Cooke and Mahoney Homes], has been amazing,” he said. “People are always kind and welcoming. Working with the direct youth care worker staff, we have this common goal, so it’s been a really good experience.”
After Francisco completes his master’s degree, he’s hoping to apply for a new position at Mercy Home.
“I’m excited to explore all the opportunities that Mercy Home has,” he said. “Probably somewhere in the educational field because I’m getting my school social work degree. If I could be an advocate for kids in that setting, [that would be great because] I’m very passionate about education. But I’m open to any way I can make an impact and feel fulfilled.”