One afternoon in September 2010, a young man dressed in Army fatigues who appeared to be 7 feet tall came intoThe Harbour Youth Center looking for support and a place to be after school. Gavin had been in and out of the DCYF system from the age of 5 and often says that he struggled to know where he belonged and who he could trust. But that has changed.
Almost overnight, Gavin was spending practically every day in the center, making people laugh and being very loud! It was clear to all of the staff that under all his bluster there was an intelligent, thoughtful young man who was feeling lost and hurt.
Gavin threw himself into all the services offered at the Youth Center, including the summer jobs program, college tours, career development workshops, and social emotional groups. As time went by, he opened up to staff about the issues he was facing at home and at school. Gavin decided to leave high school and enroll in Job Corps where he received his diploma and a certification in welding. After he successfully completed Job Corps, he came back to the Youth Center asking for assistance finding a job. Gavin’s charisma and tenacious attitude was really the key to his quickly finding employment and keeping his head above water. Although he worked many hours to survive, Gavin still managed to spend a good amount of time at the Youth Center, and the staff started to see a change. Gavin was no longer the kid who was told to keep it down, or stop using that language, or where is your homework? Instead, he was the young man saying to the younger kids to quiet down, stop using that language, and why aren’t you doing your math homework?
Last summer, we placed Gavin in a leadership job overseeing other youth at a job site. Gavin relished the role of leader and decided that working with youth was a calling that he wanted to explore. He started looking for jobs working with youth and found two posts, one for an Assistant Counselor at Harmony Hill School, and a Peer Youth Specialist position with us at The Harbour Youth Center. Gavin was offered both positions! Instead of choosing, he decided to take both jobs and work over 60 hours a week with at-risk and disadvantaged youth.
“Gavin is the best example of what can happen when someone chooses to believe the good that others are saying to them rather than the negative. He has and will continue to positively change the lives of many around him, including my own.”—Stump Evans, The Harbour Youth Center Manager