Strength Success Story
"As an officer working in the Strength Unit, dealing with trafficked youth, it is hard to single out a particular success story. We are both fortunate and challenged by the opportunity to impact youth every day and ‘success’ is something that I measure on a day to day, interaction by interaction basis.
I view success as when a youth smiles during an interaction, when they open up to share their anxiety, struggles, depression, or their own successes. When a young person feels a sense of trust to share things that most would hide from the world – this is success. It is meaningful to be a person that the youth want to share with, talk with and have lunch with (yes, I bring lunch on many occasions). I have found it amazing what is divulged over a meal, simply by being accessible and approachable. Through remembering that each youth likes beef or chicken, coke or lemonade, is a big deal to them because it shows that you remember them, and it means you take the time to care about what they like.
I have been in situations where a youth was threatening to run instead of going to court and facing consequences. This same youth was often aggressive to others in the group home where he was living. I met with him, talked with him at length and as he broke down and cried, I shared a hug with him and promised that I would attend his hearing and be there to support him. He came to the hearing the next day and we talked. Through this, he knew that I had his best interests in my heart. The first time we met, I spoke with him about being released from detention to attend his father’s funeral and the importance of returning to detention after the service. Down the road, I met with him a few days before his eighteenth birthday where we had lunch at his new group home. During our conversation, he asked me if I thought ‘life went by fast’. He explained that he feels like it is going by really slow for him. I told him that I understood, sometimes time passes slowly while other times, it flies. When I told him I had known him for two years, he said it seemed way less than that. I spoke about how my 20-year-old daughter sems like she has been with me only 5 years and he laughed. I consider my time and interactions with him a success and I believe he felt the same way. On December 14th of 2021, he passed away at the young age of 18. Still, I believe we obtained success together. We laughed and learned and our time together meant something good and positive for both of us. Rest in peace J.L. 4/12/2003 -12/14/2021.
Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the good or bad of an undertaking. These are the definitions of success. It seems we cannot dictate success or ensure success, only plant the seeds, and tend to our good intentions to help people grow. With individual choices and the freedom to move forward, our youth take the nourishment they feel they need and choose what they want, making their own way in the world. Some decisions are good and some not so much. Knowing that the seeds were planted and the garden was tended to properly, does not always guarantee success, but without these measures, failure is a guaranteed result. Given the knowledge and chance nature of our work, I will plant seeds and nourish the garden with faith and love, hoping to have a positive impact. I believe that is what God would want us to do. Someone wise told me years ago that we all work for God. I have put this knowledge into my life’s work, and it has made me a better person.
Although it is impossible to share just one success, I can tell you a long list of stories that were a successful to me, and in the eyes of others. I see success as I wish to see it - in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. I find my success by continuing to be there for youth who could use a friendly face, to share good and bad moments, to help guide with compassion as our young people navigate quite possibly, the most difficult times in their lives, and to look for reasons to keep moving forward in a world that they feel has left them behind.
When we view youth as a gift, an individual and vital part of all of our futures, we see success.”
Strength Surveillance Officer
Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department
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