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It’s the Little Things

In your professional life, have you ever asked yourself, “Am I making a difference?”

Once in a while, it’s good to take a moment and reflect on your journey and reward yourself with the reasons why you do what you do in your work life.

Youth workers at Covenant House Vancouver play an important, and sometimes very challenging, role in the lives of youth who stay with us. A part-time youth worker who splits her time between the Seymour and Pender locations, shared that it’s the little things that make her job so rewarding and encourage her to keep doing what she does.

Here is her list of little things:

  • When one of the quietest girls in residence announced that she got a new job and everyone in the room cheered for her

  • When a gruff youth shows empathy towards your apparent fatigue by encouraging you to get more rest

  • When a youth who doesn’t usually verbally interact, runs up to you to let you know that she’s two months sober and confides that you are one of the only people that she feels comfortable sharing that with

  • When a youth apologizes to you after a disagreement

  • When a youth excitedly tells you that they watched a film from your home country, and every time they see you, for the next three months, you each quote lines from that movie to each other

  • During an intake session, when you tell the youth that they don’t need to worry about where their next meal is coming from, and that news is met with a sigh of relief

  • When you run into former youth that you’ve worked with, either on the street or while working at the front desk, and you get excited as they tell you all of the wonderful things that are happening in their lives

  • When you get to participate in lively group discussions over the reading of horoscopes at breakfast

  • When a youth tells you that they are happy that you are their contact for the day and ask you to attend their case plan meeting

  • When a youth is excited to share passages with you that they’ve marked in a book that they’ve been reading

  • That connection you reestablish when a youth, who has been a way for a while, comes back and is amazed when you ask about that family member that they mentioned the last time they were there

  • When you’re enjoying a meal together, and everyone at the table shares what their grandmothers/mothers/aunties used to make for them

  • When a youth, who has been feeling down, exclaims, “Stop! My stomach is hurting!” during an unbridled laugh at something that you said

  • When a youth, with a cheeky grin, asks for help with his homework, knowing full well that you don’t do physics
  • When you get a burst of excitement seeing a youth make a positive shift during changes in their life

Not all days are easy. Not all days have wins. But it is important to notice and acknowledge the little things, because they add up; and indeed, answer the question with a resounding yes—yes you are making a difference.