Every year at this time, I get a lot of notes, emails, phone calls from parents of students completing the Youthlinc program. They are thanking me and Youthlinc staff for providing a program that has helped their son or daughter decide what to do for a career, has made them less materialistic, more giving, more outgoing, more comfortable with themselves and with others.
They say to me: We noticed the change even as she came down the steps at the airport. She was a different person.
They say to me: When does this new attitude go away? I like to say in response: Oh, in about 40 or 50 years… because I know this program works and creates lifetime humanitarians: Young people, and old people, who not only stop (even when they are in a hurry) to open doors for folks carrying packages… but who also stop in their tracks and invent new ways to help others, make career turns away from possibly lucrative (but empty) enterprises to fields that provide deep personal satisfaction by making this world a better place in ways large and small.
It may sound strange for me to say that these kinds of exchanges are fortunately commonplace in my world. I am fortunate to work with Youthlinc and with amazing staff and volunteers who pull in the same direction: the direction of good.
It helps me get up in the morning, and it is why I do this work.
But today, I got an unusual phone call from a parent. She said: I’ve been meaning to write you a note, but I start out and can’t see the page for crying. Your program saved my son’s life.
He was depressed, even suicidal, when he started the Youthlinc program last fall. I had to force him to go to the meetings at first. But something changed at the team social in January. He called me and asked me to pick him up. He couldn’t stay the night. But when he got in the car, he said, Mom, I gotta go to therapy. These are great people, and I want to be around them.
And even though she had been begging him to make this step, he took it on his own, and began to grow through the fellowship and leadership that was just a natural part of being part of Youthlinc.
So she wanted to thank me, not just for her son’s new found self confidence and optimism, but for his willingness to live … not just exist … with arms wide open to the wonder of this world.
So that’s why we do this work.

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