Mark used to sit in our San Bruno Youth Drop-in Center waiting for his friend. He would refuse to speak with anyone. Mark refused to come in for food or join in any activities. He tried so hard to project a cool, aloof front.
But behind this shy and withdrawn exterior, Mark was a young man with a troubled past. He had been homeless, abused drugs, and been a victim of domestic violence. It was clear to our staff that this was someone who needed help but didn’t know how to ask for it.
Every time our Drop-In Center’s Peer Partners saw him sitting in the lobby they would try to engage him in conversation. They would remind him of the meals and games available to him inside. They tried to get him to open up by approaching him as equals who had also gone through their fair share of hardships. Meanwhile, our Behavioral Coaches sensed he needed medical attention, food, and counseling. They did not give up on Mark.
After taking a while to warm up to the Drop-In Center, Mark has learned to trust the people at the Center. He’s discovered he can talk about his hopes and fears in our Men’s Advisory Group. Mark is now helping out at the Center and talking about going back to school to be a psychology major to help others.