I have often been asked what a typical workday looks like for me. This can be strangely tough to answer because we are working with young people, and every person is different. A safe answer, that is my go to, is that we’re simply all over place all the time, connecting with youth where they are at.
This is the reality when working with people - the day to day is always going to look different. Programs will look different, how we connect in high schools will look different (based on the culture of that school), and how we connect with youth will look different because of varying personalities and life stages.
I had a day that looked quite different from my “normal” day before spring break. It looked different because on this day I felt like I was playing the role of “Dad” more than the role of youth worker.
After connecting with him on his lunch hour, we were set up to grab a bite to eat after school and before I knew it, I found myself filling this role that a parent normally would. His mother had to work late, to help make ends meet, and I found myself stepping in on their behalf. We spent a good chunk of time together after school, ran a bunch of errands for things he needed for his extracurricular activities, had dinner, and then ran him to school for an event that evening.
Albeit these are small things, but small things that no one else was available to help with.
This single-parent family has been through a lot and being able to accomplish everything in one day is not always realistic. In that evening, I was filling a much bigger role than simply ‘youth worker’. That evening I was taking on the role of a caring male figure in his life - perhaps one of the only ones.
Our days always look different, and in this case, different makes an impact and is a very good thing.
- Jon Pue