The first day that “Tim” arrived at our Crisis Program, it was obvious that he was a very special young man….special because of his cognitive abilities and special because of his spirit. Tim had a huge gaping wound on his arm and it needed to be constantly re-bandaged. Tim lacked the ability to see that and staff would call him in and offer to tend to it for him. Tim would almost bounce into the staff office, lapping up the love and attention staff would give him while changing his wrappings and listening to his gentle voice. You could tell Tim really appreciated the efforts of the staff and would often thank us by saying “God bless you Guys”.
The rest of the youth knew that Tim was different and sometimes isolated him and whispered comments about him. Our team always works hard to create a positive environment for all our youth and intervened when necessary. We were all seated ready to eat our fabulous dinner when Tim came to the dining area with his tray, looking for a place to sit. No one offered him a seat and I could see the hurt and rejection in his eyes. I quickly asked Tim to join our table and he seemed relieved. What happened next was something I will never forget…..
Tim bowed his head, prayed to himself and then began to eat his dinner. “Tim you pray before you eat?” I asked. He responded, "Oh yes, I am so grateful to live in Canada and that I have a warm bed and this great dinner.” You could hear a pin drop in the dining room as the other youth overheard his explanation. The energy in the dining room suddenly changed. Youth gathered up dishes after our meal and helped the kitchen staff with piling the dishes. A group of youth invited our cook to join us for dessert, which she did. It was if Tim’s humility and spirit of gratitude made everyone more accepting of one another.
Recently, Tim left our Crisis Program, as he had secured long term housing. Although all of our youth will eventually move on, it is sometimes sad to see youth leave (for us and for the youth). When Tim left, he turned to me and said “God Bless you, don’t be sad, this is meant to be.” Tim, the one who was sometimes isolated and whispered about, set an example today...not just for the other youth, but for the staff as well.