catherine mcdonough“I was gonna tell her off some more, but then I saw your face and knew I had to stop.” These are the words one of my youth spoke to me on our ride back to Mercy Home following a disagreement between him and a teacher at school. Moments like these cause me to pause and reflect on the work I am doing, and it was in this particular moment that I was reminded of how privileged I am to work with the middle school boys of Noha Home.

Our youth come to Mercy Home with difficult pasts. Some are victims of abuse, neglect, and violent neighborhoods. Some have parents who are undocumented, some do not know who their biological parents are, and some have parents who are incarcerated. Some come from broken homes and some do not have a place to call home. As a result, the youth have a variety of behavioral and emotional issues that they are working through. However, the most humbling part of my experience as a Youth Care Worker this year has been seeing how these young men do not let their pasts define them.

“Moments like these cause me to pause and reflect on the work I am doing, and it was in this particular moment that I was reminded of how privileged I am to work with the middle school boys of Noha Home.”

When this particular youth told me that simply the look on my face made him stop what he was doing, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of his life. This youth came to Mercy Home with a variety of risk factors, but will be leaving with a completely different outlook on life. Had I not spent the past eight months getting to know him, our exchanged glances during this situation would have been meaningless. However, instead of this situation leading to this youth possibly being suspended or expelled from school, he was reminded of the hard work he has been doing in Noha Home. He was reminded of his weekly therapy sessions, the hours spent learning his times tables, and the dance party we had on Super Bowl Sunday.  He was reminded of nightly group meetings, plunging clogged toilets, and teaching me the proper free throw form in the gym. Most importantly, he was reminded that he is in control of his life. He was able to remove himself from the situation, talk about it, and go back to school the next day without incident.

It is in these small victories that I am reminded of just how far the youth of Noha Home have come. It is important to remember where they came from, but it is even more crucial to focus on where they are going. Every youth in Noha Home has committed to a brighter future for himself and I am truly blessed to be a part of their journeys.

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