Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Eyes by Lynn Olden

I attended the Alternative House Annual Breakfast and Fundraiser in October 2008, and I knew immediately that I wanted to do my field placement at Alternative House. What touched my heart most was the testimonies of the youth who, in various ways, became involved with Alternative House, and how they were helped by the programs. In August 2009, I began my internship experience at AH.
I love this age, adolescence, that transition period-teens learning to adjust to the changes and the choices they are facing. It is a time of excitement and exhilaration and confusion, all at once. They are finally seeing, through their own eyes, the life that they have been preparing for, and realizing that they have the ability to make that life happen.
During my internship at AH, I provided individual and group counseling with the teens and relished the opportunity to listen to their stories, encourage their goals, build positive relationships and help them improve their communication skills to successfully address challenges at school and at home. I also worked with many families, and helped parents and guardians to envision a new possibility for helping their teenager to develop into the kind of person the teen has dreamt of becoming. But what we provide collectively at AH is so much more. We give adolescents a good meal eaten together, respect, structure, expectancy, humor and laughter. We see every adolescent through new eyes, devoid of the mistakes they have made and full of the hope they have lost sight of; and that is what makes all the difference.
The counselors at AH are as competent and dedicated as they are compassionate and creative. They love to have a good time, while they’re doing their work, which makes it a more productive environment. I’ve watched the counselors look for an adolescent’s strength, and then bring it out, so with new eyes, the teen can see and utilize that strength. They care deeply about the adolescents and their families and are intent on seeing the youth succeed. I once heard that the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. The people at AH do great work; and during my internship, they provided me the extraordinary opportunity to share and contribute to that work.
My greatest strength lies in my ability to teach and to remain teachable; I was able to do both while at AH. When I think back to sitting at the table in that breakfast fundraiser, I am proud of myself for this one thing, I had the courage to follow my heart and my intuition, and they did not lead me wrong.