Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just A Small Thing

There are a lot of things I take for granted in my existence of everyday life. I know how to maneuver in my world, in the place that I live. And I have the ability to manage my own schedule without too many problems. I’ve watched my kids grow up and now that they are teenagers they are getting better at managing their time and making decisions about how and when they want to do something or go somewhere. Of course, being typical teenagers they want to go somewhere and do something all the time!

But what if you couldn’t negotiate your schedule? What if you just couldn’t manage to get things in a workable order? How hard would even the most basic organizing of your life be under those circumstances?

We first met “Kyle” in our Cold Weather Shelter. At that time we operated a temporary shelter for homeless men just to get them off the street in the worst of the winter weather months. Kyle was outgoing and funny, he always had a big story to tell. He was living on the streets.

We knew that something was amiss in the way Kyle negotiated his world. He seemed like an overgrown 14 year old in many respects. Seemingly normal behavior followed by erratic and incredibly impulsive behaviors.

When Community Missions opened the Juda House we moved Kyle in and started to really work on stabilizing him and dealing with his issues. What we found was that because of his specific condition, he would always have difficulty in managing his world. The impulsive and sometimes reactionary behaviors were caused by a very real issue that could not be reversed. (I’m not being too specific here on purpose because I do not want to reveal anything that might identify this person).

Our Care Coordinators pushed him to do better, take more responsibility, make good decisions and back up those decisions with the right actions. Now we are not talking a few weeks or months of work here. This is a multi-year process. We move forward a few steps and then hit a wall or fall back to an old patter of unsuccessful behavior. The great thing about Kyle is that he almost always has a good attitude and sometimes that’s half the battle.

Just a couple of weeks ago the Care Coordinator pulled me into the office and said, “You won’t believe what Kyle did today.” I was bracing for something bad.

She proceeded to tell me, “Kyle realized that he had been scheduled for two appointments at the same place (which is about a 45 minute drive away) on two different days next week. He also knew that this was not a good thing because it meant multiple trips for someone to transport him. He then picked up the phone; called and changed his appointments so that they were on the same day and made sure that one appointment would follow the other in such a way that he would not have a long wait between appointments! He did it all on his own without any help from me!”

Kyle proudly walked into the Care Coordinator’s office and announced that he had made some changes in his appointments and was very happy to tell us that he did it on his own. He took great pride in the fact that he was able to manage something like this on his own.

It may seem like a small thing. I mean he just made a phone call and changed an appointment time right? But in Kyle’s world it was a huge step. It’s one more step that he has made in his time at the Juda House. One more step away from his life on the streets. One more step towards independence. One more step towards becoming the person he really wants to be.

But sometimes it’s just a small thing that can really make your day.

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