We have a young man, Mark, who was suspended overnight recently for coming back to the Crisis Shelter after having smoked pot. He was asked to come back in the morning when he was no longer under the influence to speak with staff about getting back on track. Sure enough, Mark was at our door first thing the next morning, waiting patiently to speak with his youth worker (me) about what happened that evening. The usual “tough guy/gangster” bravado that this young man usually carried was replaced by a humbled look of shame. I approached him in the lobby with a warm smile and asked him if he was alright…with his head hung low, he gave me a subtle nod “yes”. I asked him to come inside so that we could have a private chat.
As soon as we got into the office, Mark broke down and started crying. He was so emotional that his hands were shaking as he held them over his face. It took a few minutes for him to be able to form the words, but he began expressing remorse over the kind of life he had been living and the people he had hurt. The life of crime and gang activity that had been so much a part of this young man’s street life had finally taken its toll. Through the sobs came the words “I need to change my life…I can’t do this anymore…it’s going to kill me.”
Mark apologized for using marijuana the night before and talked about how he now realizes that his drug use is associated with his feelings of remorse and regret. He said that leading up to now, he never thought he had a chance to live a decent life and for the first time thought he might be able to do it.
Mark said that the whole time he was out on the overnight suspension he just wanted so badly to come back to the Shelter so that he could commit to changing. He said that he needed our help to fulfill his commitment. I responded by saying “that’s exactly what we are here for…it would be an honour”.
Today marks the beginning of a new relationship between Covenant House and a young person who has finally decided that he can trust us enough to let us help him on his path to a better life. This is what it is all about!