The good, the bad and the frustrating

Michael Harvey is an online Human Services Leadership student half way through his junior year. Originally from Appleton Wis., he moved around the country after two years of college as a way to help him determine what he wanted to do with his life. Those experiences lead him to want to help those less fortunate, which is why he chose to major in human services leadership.

The Young Adult Program at COTS homeless shelter is now in full swing.  Complete with the good, the bad and the frustrating.  Since my last posting, I have been thrown into the thick of it.  As mentioned previously, I am now handling the task of completing intake interviews, which has been a very good experience.  It has shown me humility beyond what I could imagine—people from every walk of life; hearing their hardships and struggles which lead them to the door step of COTS is truly amazing.  I also have a few guys I meet with regularly to chat, talk about their goals and to see if they need anything.

Most of the residents now recognize me…they may not always remember my name, but they are not shy about asking questions.  One resident, who is returning to school after many years, sought me out to ask questions about my experience and what to expect.  He was excited to go back and nervous about taking tests and how he was going to pay for his schooling.  One of my ongoing projects has been to compile a list of grants and scholarships that are available and how to access them.  So I sat down with this resident and we figured out a viable way he could afford his tuition.  Seeing the relief in his face is something that I’ll never forget.

Overall these last few weeks have given me the full experience.  I have had some mixed emotions over the last few weeks.  It started when one of the residents approached me to give his notice—he was ready to live on his own.  He had thought it through, found a roommate and felt that he was stable enough in his recovery that living independent was feasible.  My next day at COTS, another person came saying the same thing. He was leaving and was ready to stand on his own—the difference being he was not fully ready.  He had a stable job, but still was struggling to pay the fees to stay at COTS, much less pay for utilities and food.  We talked to him to make sure he thought this was a good decision, which he felt it was.  Part of this learning experience for me is to learn to let others make their own mistakes.  It may be a hard lesson, but it is their decision to make and no one else’s.  Part of me wants to say ‘NOOOOO you’re not ready don’t do it!!!’ But I just smile, ask questions about their future, congratulate them and say goodbye.

Most of the goals I set for myself when starting this internship have been met and it is amazing just how much I enjoy working in this environment.  My list of projects is getting shorter and my end is getting near, I want to take my last remaining weeks and enjoy it.  It is work.  It is a lot of work, but it is worth it. For that I am grateful.

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