A popular warm up question to a small group is often, what was the high and low of your week? Another warm up question might be, describe a significant event in the form of a photograph or snapshot. Given that as a backdrop, I wanted to share two recent snapshots from working with detained youth at unCUFFED.
Two weeks ago, a 17 year old girl we will call Faith had just come back to her housing unit from being at court all morning. At her hearing, her hopes of going home on a box had been crushed as her case was postponed for yet another two months. She lives on the adult women’s mental health tier because there is no space at the Baltimore County Detention Center to keep female youth separate from adult inmates. That afternoon I met Faith in the classroom that is on her unit. She came in, closed the door and did not sit in the chair with me at the table. Instead, she backed up to the wall, squatted down and hung her head. She stayed with her back up against the wall for our whole time, her elbows resting on her knees, her expression full of pain. For the first 15 minutes she would only respond to some of my questions, and with those it was only a nod. I did my best to convey some empathy for what she was going through. I do not know if our time together brought any relief to her hurting, but if anything else, I wanted her to know that she was not alone and that somebody cared.
Leaving the unit, I felt her heaviness, her powerlessness and prayed that God would come and meet her and bring her His comfort.
On Saturday, I am headed to the Dollar Store at the Perring Parkway shopping center. As I am walking on the sidewalk, I pass a young man and suddenly hear him call out:
“Excuse me, Miss, did you work at the jail?”
I turn around and see a handsome young man with short dreads and Harry Potter glasses.
“Yes, I do. Were you there?” as I look in his face for a familiar reminder.
“Yeah, I was there a couple of years ago.”
“Oh, tell me your name, it has been awhile.”
“Oh my gosh, yes Tylek Grey, I remember you. How are you?”
“I’m doing real good, Ms. Kim. I work here at Shoppers.”
“That is great to hear Tylek. Did you finish school?”
“Oh yes, I got my GED. I’m also a Dad and have a child.”
“Wow, I am so happy for you that you are doing so well. You know some guys fall back in to the streets and we have even lost unCUFFED guys.”
“I know Ms. Kim, I was just talking to some friends last night about that! I am staying out of the fray and working on my life.”
“I am so glad to hear that Tylek. Here is my card and call me if you need any help with some of the goals you are pursuing. And thanks so much for stopping me.”
“Oh sure thing Ms. Kim, I could never forget unCUFFED!”
Leaving the shopping center, I felt Tylek’s joy and sense of accomplishment and I thanked God for this divine appointment and how He had worked in Tylek’s life.