One at a Time

The Vancouver program was recently notified that a youth being served in Behavior Rehabilitation Services (BRS) needed to exit this service level due to the substantial progress she had made since first beginning services with us at Brentwood and then moving to an SA therapeutic foster home.   

While the youth wanted to remain in her home until an adoptive home was found, this can be complicated, especially since SA therapeutic foster homes typically serve youth who are in BRS-not kids at a lesser service level.  For case managers and others that support youth who need to find resolution, this kind of situation can be tough.  Attachments are made and, even when youth thrive, it can be hard to say good-bye.  The exchange below is between Michael Wallace, the program manager, and Julianne Ditzler, the case manager.  


“When I go to the beach, I always take a big handful of sand and let it equalize or pour out of my hand until it stops. A little reminder to myself that every grain is a kid I can help and, even though there’s a beach full, there are thousands in my mind. The better we get about getting kids to the steps to move on, the more kids we can help.”  

Julianne then shared a story*:   

“An old man was doing his daily walk along the beach one morning, when he spotted a young boy crouched by the water, scooping something up from the sand and throwing it into the sea.  

The beach was normally empty at this time of day, and so the old man stopped to watch for a while.  

He noticed that the boy kept on shuffling a little further down the beach, then repeating this same action again and again – stopping, scooping, throwing, moving.   

“What are you doing there, boy?” the old man asked, walking closer.  

“I’m saving these starfish that are stranded” replied the boy, “if they stay on the beach they will dry out and die, so I’m putting them back into the ocean so they can live.”  

The old man was silent for a few seconds.  

“Young man” he said, “on this stretch of beach alone, there must be more than one hundred stranded starfish. Around the next corner, there must be at least one thousand more. This goes on for miles and miles and miles – I’ve done this walk every day for 10 years, and it’s always the same. There must be millions of stranded starfish! I hate to say it, but you’ll never make a difference.”  

The boy replied, “Well, I just made a difference for that one”, and continued with his work.”  

(The Starfish Story was written by Loren Eiseley.) 

These stories shared by Michael and Julianne represent the reality that there are far more individuals in need than any one of us or any organization can serve.  The work done with each individual client to support them to make the steps in their life, is powerful.  Making a difference one person at a time changes the trajectory of that person’s life.  While just one at a time, the overall impact is astounding.  Thanks to all at SA who make a difference and keep going, even when saying goodbye is hard. 

Posted in Blog.