By: Curt Williams, Founder & Executive Director
As many of you may know, we do things a little differently here at Youth-Reach. We are not a boys’ home, a rehab, a detox center or a boarding school. Our daily efforts are to build deep and meaningful relationships – sometimes with boys who see relationships as painful and only a setup for more disappointment and abandonment.
On day one, a new resident begins the two-week Evaluation Phase. During these initial two weeks, our staff evaluates the resident and the new resident evaluates the staff and the program. At the end of two weeks, two decisions must be made. The resident has to decide if he can and will commit to the one-year program of Youth-Reach, or if he wants to leave. The staff meet to decide if this boy is truly ready for what we will put him through, and frankly, we decide if he is worth our time and God’s money.
If both the boy and the staff are affirmative, we bring the boy into a staff meeting. Some are very wary at this point, while others have been tipped off and know what is coming.
At this time either Jimmy, Xavier or Curt will tell the boys something like this:
“When we first heard your voice on the phone and we conducted the first interview, we referred to you as an applicant. Then you were accepted into the program and for the last two weeks we have referred to you as a resident. But today we are making a lifelong commitment. We have made this commitment a few thousand times and it has never been rescinded. Today, we are making the decision to adopt you into our hearts. From now on we will refer to you as a son. Whether you do well in this program, or you do not, we will always see you as a son. We will call you our son, we will pursue you as we would pursue our own sons, we will discipline you as a son and we will love you as a son. We also know that as a son, you can hurt us more deeply than just another resident, but we are willing to take that chance, and today we make you a son.”
We mark this moment with a t-shirt. We have printed many of these shirts. They are army green, they have the Youth-Reach logo on the front, and on the back in three big letters it reads, “SON.”
We are convinced that our success lies in our ability to gain trust and to build a valuable and lifelong relationship with these boys. They certainly can and do hurt us at times, but the joy of seeing them succeed is worth the risk. Watching so many grow up, join the military, go to college or enter the mission field… it is a wild and glorious privilege. Seeing them meet and marry wonderful young ladies and begin a family is an unexplainable joy.
Yet it begins with vulnerability. It begins with adoption. It begins with a green t-shirt.