As a person who is purposefully childless, it never ceases to amaze me how much the teens in this program have affected me. Over the years, we have had many DCFYI teen participants in our house for small events, holiday meals, hosting or a needed place to stay. We have their pictures and pictures of their children on our refrigerator like I‘ve seen other people do with family members. I have shared experiences with DCFYI teens that we share with others as good times and fond memories, not unlike what you would hear at a family reunion.
After being involved with DCFYI for a couple of years my husband and I were approached by a young man about hosting him. We agree to host him while he transitioned into college locally. Coming from a non-traditional high school the transition to a much more rigorous curriculum and self-regulated studying was as difficult to him as it was for us adjusting to a young person in the house still working on figuring out who he was and how he fit into the world. The semester was challenging and lessons were learned by all of us. At each of his subsequent graduation parties, memories of us convincing him he should stay in school beyond his first day of classes were shared. I have other fond memories of his stay with us as well: the food we shared, study habits suggested and learned the hard way, discussions about subjects he was learning or extra-curricular presentation he attended.
We were also able to help a young lady we met through DCFYI, giving her a place to live for a month while she was going through hard circumstances. This was a very sudden and precarious ‘placement’ which left me feeling her stay was not long enough to build a lasting relationship. After she was no longer staying with us we rarely saw or heard from her. What a touching surprise it was to get an e-mail a year later with thanks for all the things she had learned while living with us in that short period of time, that in her words, she “still uses daily.”
Ultimately I feel that being a volunteer in this program has given me a family I never expected to have. Not just the participants but my fellow volunteers have struck chords in my heart and generated memories for me to carry into old age and to continue to share with others.