We’ve all heard the old adage: love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. Maybe that is true at some jobs… but not here.
We work HARD at Eagle Village. We work hard every day, 24/7, and there is no end of work to do in sight.
And we still love it.
That’s right. We love what we do. It is our privilege to care for and serve boys and girls from across Michigan. It is incredibly hard work AND a complete joy.
It Starts With The Kids
The kids in our care come to us because they are victims of abuse or neglect and/or because they are struggling behaviorally or emotionally. One day we might be working with someone who has been waiting to be adopted for years and is scared of what they future might hold. They next day it might be a teen that was adopted years ago, but now is struggling to connect with their new family. We help kids who have horrible histories of abuse and don’t know how to move past it. We help kids who have been neglected, forgotten, and ignored that just don’t know how control their anger about it.
We look at their histories, read their case files, listen to their stories, and then we see them for who they truly are- just kids. They are just kids that have had a hard past. They didn’t choose it. Now, they need someone to help them.
We See A Need (And We See How to Fill It)
We asked our staff recently why they loved working with our kids. They said things like “just to see them smile and actually be able to be a kid is totally worth it for me” and “you never know what they are going to say, but when you take the time to listen, it’s usually worth your time”.
Over and over again our staff talks about how they love to be the ones that get to show the very same kids that have been abused, neglected, told they were too much work, or were too messed up to be any good that they actually have value, they matter, and we are here to help.
“The boys and their families that I work with tend to get overlooked and/or misunderstood and labeled in our society,” says Phylicia Rosema, Family Therapist at Eagle Village. “They are great young men who were not given a fair chance and deserve to have someone care about them, support them, and help them be successful.”
“The kids and families that we are able to serve through Eagle Village are some of the most deserving of help, and often the least likely to receive the quality services they need without places like Eagle Village,” echoes Daniel Wesche, Eagle Village’s Clinical Supervisor.
The kids notice it too.
As he prepared to graduate from the program, one resident named Drew was asked what helped him the most while at Eagle Village. “The people here,” he replied. “The staff- I trust them a lot, they are always there for me.” He said the staff would ask lots of questions and showed they cared by not allowing him to hide what was really bothering him. The program helped Drew stop self-harming and stop pretending like everything was ok when really his history of abuse was creating blockades between him and his adoptive parents. “Everything [Eagle Village does] has a reason and a purpose and it works.”
“I had confidence in myself and that’s the first time in forever,” Candace said when she prepared to leave Eagle Village. “I feel very successful about myself and I also feel successful because you staff have helped me a lot… my Program Coach, Ms. Keren, Ms. O… because ya’ll care for all of us and most staff understand what we go through. Most of the staff are caregivers and they all care about our health and wellbeing. I also feel that you all listen to our needs before your own. I feel that this place helped me the most out of all of the placements I’ve been in because the staff here actually listened to me when I’m upset.”
It Ends With Us
As individuals, we can’t care for these kids like they need and deserve. It truly does “take a village”.
Our staff numbers range 160-190, peaking during the summer when we offer intervention camps. We work in teams, complete ongoing trainings together, and treat each other the best we can.
“It seems more like a family- doesn’t seem like you’re coming to a place of employment,” says Nick Blue, Eagle Village Program Coach.
The camaraderie makes a hard job easier and, in some cases, changes staff’s lives.
“I know where these kids come from. I have an understanding of what we call the games that they play. Because I used to play them myself,” says Drue Nelson, an Eagle Village staff member of 24 years. “I can communicate with the youth and there is a respect that I can get from the youth in a very short amount of time because, ultimately, they want to be safe and, ultimately, they want to do well and they want to belong. And I think that’s one of the gifts that I’ve gotten now – because I used to be in that boat.”
You can hear Drue tell more about his story here:
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