One moment has stood out to me and is one of my favorites of the year…

There have been many moments in 2017 that have caused me to stop and think, to smile or to shake my head in confusion. One moment however has stood out to me and is one of my favorites of the year. It is not a story of someone overcoming a huge barrier in their life or finding hope when all seems lost, but it is one that always makes me smile and reminds me that it is all about the small things that make Youth Working so great.

Since I have begun working on the weekend, it has provided many opportunities to build relationships with the residents and to organize fun activities for them. One of these activities has been trivia night. I have always been fond of trivia and began spearheaded Covenant House’s Crisis Program trivia night 7 months ago, which takes place every Saturday at 5:30pm. Many residents have come to expect it on Saturdays and the weeks that we aren’t able to do it, there is a resounding groan of disappointment.

However, there was one resident, who we will call Sam, who was particularly enthusiastic about trivia night. When I first met Sam, his jovial and animated personality could be seen (and heard) from across the room, he was full of life and everything was exciting to him. So it was no surprise that Sam was stoked to play trivia when we first told him about it. He could hardly contain his excitement and immediately started preparing. Now Sam, as joyful and cheerful as his is, also gives off the impression that he isn’t the brightest bulb in the Christmas tree. Sam often struggled with remembering basic rules about shelter structure and it was clear that remembering random facts for trivia would be difficult for him.

So when Sam got out a piece of paper and started writing down every fact that he could possibly think would be asked at trivia, all the staff were very surprised and happy to see him ‘studying’ for our activity. He probably came into the office 15-20 times that day asking random questions and if they would be on trivia, adding each to his ‘study guide.’ At 5:00pm when I was in the common space, there was an odd silence in the room, which was unusual when Sam was around.  I looked over and saw the usually loud and boisterous Sam quietly studying in the back, reading his study guide.

By 5:30 there were around 12 residents who had come out to participate in trivia night. Sam was excited and actually had studied some of the questions that were being asked. After we finished, everyone handed in their answers and I started marking them. To my surprise, Sam had the highest mark! The prize for winning was a movie ticket, and when we told Sam that he had won, he burst with joy, did a fist pump and a victory lap of the common space.

It was so great to see a resident pick a goal, work towards that goal, and succeed at it even if it was something as small as a trivia night. Many staff were surprised and delighted to see that Sam had won because most knew that remembering random facts was not an easy task for him. But Sam had tried hard, studied and it paid off for him. This is a wonderful reminder of the power that hard work can produce. What is even more thrilling is that the following week Sam studied just as hard and won again!

Shared by Youth Worker, Jesse B.