The truck sputtered and stumbled along the busy highway. With the high-speed traffic whizzing by, I pulled off onto a side road, not paying attention to the road’s name as I was more concerned of being able to avoid an incident on the highway.
We’d barely stopped when a man approached and asked what the problem was. I explained what had happened and after a few minutes he was able to reasonably explain that it was most likely an issue with the fuel pump.
I called family about an hour away for help. Then my three young daughters and our friend on the adventure with us climbed out of the truck so we could sit in the shade on the hot summer’s day. It was in that process that I noticed we were on the side of Old Prison Camp Road.
Interestingly enough, this particular road leads to an active prison that was about to have a shift change. Over the next hour, while we waited, no fewer than 20 vehicles stopped to check on us and offer us water and assistance. Despite being increasingly warm, tired, and frustrated, we politely turned down the offers every time from these well-intentioned strangers.
So what does this have to do with Boys and Girls Homes? More than you might think.
When a youth comes into our care, they are stuck on their own version of Old Prison Camp Road. They are being offered help from well-intentioned strangers when all they want to do is get home to the familiar. It doesn’t matter if they understand that these new people are trying to help. There is a desire to be independent and not have to move into unfamiliar and uncomfortable places.
Luckily, our BGHNC care staff understands that their role is to continue to offer the support and care even when the youth is unable or unwilling to accept it. Over time, the youth will stop seeing the staff as well-intentioned strangers and instead see them as a community support system that will help them through these dark times into the light beyond.
I have been so blessed to be able to hear the stories of transformation from both sides – the staff and the youth. I invite you to learn more of the stories by signing up for our e-newsletter.
Melissa Hopkins is the Public Relations and Marketing Specialist at Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.