If There Are Families Here in San Diego, I'd Like to Find One

This is a beautiful and powerful representation of the reality of these teens and a reminder that (1) growing up is not always easy even for the prom king and queen and (2) one's petty life challenges pale compared to that of others. Many kudos to The Reader for daring to take on something with social and political relevance rather than an article about taco stands (I did enjoy the missile test sites in Scripps one). Mr. Hemmingson's article particularly hit home with a ring of truth and memory so that I found myself in tears. I "know" these kids! I have heard their life stories and have worked with them. I spent more than 10 years working as an adolescent and family treatment crisis counselor in the mid-1970s to late 1980s with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents, developmentally disabled youth,runaways, abused and neglected youth, Hispanic street gangs, and others at a variety of public and private agencies and for County Children's Services. I experienced all the highs and lows and challenges of serving these diverse populations. At one place, I ran a pre-vocational program for 6 adolescents (at a time). We taught these extremely troubled and challenged teenagers living skills and work-related skills so they could survive after they turned 18 and became ineligible for state or county funding. It was incredible to see the transformations in some, who developed job skills and self-esteem, and to watch them as they left the "nest" and struggled to survive on their own and with their small groups of allies. Many of my associates still hear from these "kids," who are now adults,some with their own families. And, in turn, I am occasionally updated on the progress of a few of our scholars. We all just need the right tool box. While this background may be different from the particulars of your population and story, I commend you for taking it on and for illuminating the lives and struggles of so many who are often pushed aside or forgotten.
— April 12, 2008 10:20 a.m.

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