Stories / Youth
You Cared Enough
Kelsey* has been through a lot over the past six months. Kelsey has recently celebrated her 17th birthday but has been going through more than most 17 year olds. She has been struggling with addiction, finding a consistent home to live in, and has recently been expelled from school. The combination of all these factors has left my friend Kelsey sad, anxious, angry and seeking refuge from a local gang. She often expresses being angry and that it feels to her as though no one is willing to help her out. Teachers, school staff, councilors, parents and police are all groups of people that Kelsey’s circumstances have led her to have negative interactions with. Luckily, Kelsey and I have a strong relationship and are able to talk about everything she is going through, but it has been difficult to combat together all the obstacles in front of her.
When I woke up on Christmas Eve morning I immediately thought of Kelsey. I knew I would get to see her but was unsure if she even knew what she would be doing Christmas Day. Because the holiday season can be so difficult for our program youth who don’t have families to be with, I didn’t know what emotional state she might be in for our time together. I texted her to try to figure out where she was and asked her about her plans for the following day. She shared that she didn’t have any plans and that she may just hang out with her friends. I was excited by her quick response and eager to see her. There have been times in the past when Kelsey and I have made plans, but I end up spending that precious time driving around looking for where she might be.
When Kelsey got in my car we talked small talked and decided on a place to go get lunch. I then told Kelsey that I loved her and I was sorry that things have been so tough lately. I told her that there were some things I had in my car for her for Christmas that were donated from a generous person in the community through the Friends of the Children’s Adopt-a-Family program. The gifts were perfect. They consisted of clothing, gift cards and hygiene items that Kelsey needed desperately. I handed them over to her. After getting over the initial shock, she paused and started crying. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “hey, you deserve this.” She replied, “my own mom gave up on me, but this random stranger cared enough to get all this for me!?” She then went on to say, “I do have a family, I just can’t always see them.” It was so beautifully put. It showed me just how huge it was for her to receive this and how these gifts will lessen the blow of a hard time for her quite a bit.
Each holiday season I am blown away by the generosity of the community and equally inspired by the impact it has on our youth and their families. Thank you.