Lunch with Jack, a 10-year Resident
He stands at about 5’6”, a slight build with scruffy facial hair and glasses. An inquisitive glance and an easy smirk draws you to him. My first encounter with Jack came nearly two years ago as I walked the campus with my predecessor John Hitchcock. Without prompting, Jack approach hypothesizing that I might be the new “John Hitchcock.”
And since then, I have discovered that Jack hates vegetables, loves computer games, is a whiz at exotic Japanese card games and enjoys geometry. He has lived at Hillsides for ten years, most recently at one of our off-campus group homes and after diligent effort will graduate from our highschool program on Friday and make a much anticipated return to live with his mother.
Over an Italian lunch at a near by eatery, he shared with me his plans for school, a part-time job, a love interest and the hope of reconnecting with family members. “What do you like most about Hillsides?” I asked, cueing Jack to tell me about his favorite outings, adventures and misadventures alike, friendship that have been created and good people who have supported him during his tenure.
As we ended the luncheon, while Jack suggested to me he approach the manager of the restaurant for a job, I let him know that all of us at Hillsides were very proud of him and reminded him that he could count on us even after he left. He looked over at me with an expression that confirmed for me that he already knew that.
There are not many Jacks left at Hillsides. More and more, the agency is not a place where kids grow up, but rather a resource to address their needs while planning to get them back as soon as possible to their communities and families, and that is a good thing. But Hillsides has also been a great place for kids like Jack who may need a relatively supportive long-termenvironment to help achieve a level of confidence and self-esteem that will serve as the foundation for their success.
I let him know that all of us at Hillsides were very proud of him and reminded him that he could count on us even after he left.
As much as Jack and his family are grateful for all they have received during these very formative years, we, too, are grateful for the privilege to have cared for him during this time as if indeed he was our own.
Join me in congratulating Jack as he dons his cap and gown, receives his well-earned diploma and sets out on many adventures (and misadventures for sure). To him and all those we serve, whether for ten days or ten years, we pledge to do everything possible to restore well-being and hope.