What is your position with Ellipsis?
I am the Caseworker for Ross Cottage and Clark/Orval Cluster Program on the North Campus. Ross is the pre-independent living unit and Clark/Orval Cluster is for our youth in Supervised Apartment Living (SAL), an independent living setting.
How long have you worked there?
It will be 10 years this June .
Have you had any other roles/jobs during your tenure with Ellipsis?
When I began here, the caseworker position had not yet been created. I was one of the three campus counselors responsible for running the groups, providing individual counseling to our youth and coordinating their programming needs with our team.
What drew you to work at Ellipsis?
Prior to coming to Ellipsis (at the time, Youth Homes of Mid-America), I had been working as a juvenile court school liaison and also had experience in providing community-based services to kids. I have always been drawn to helping, teaching and guiding youth. Ellipsis provides ample opportunities for that!
Can you recall a moment during your career with Ellipsis when you felt like you were in exactly the right place, doing exactly what you should be doing? What was that like?
I feel like I am where I belong every day working at Ellipsis. I believe I am a very good fit working with these young men transitioning through residential programming, into the pre-independent living program, then on to independent living in the SAL program to getting their own place in the community. Helping them through this transition can be difficult, but oftentimes very rewarding as well.
What are some of the more challenging aspects of this job?
As I encourage our young men to be more independent and take responsibility for their own lives (managing their money, managing their medications, navigating employment experiences, planning for and transitioning to living in the community independently as an adult), they often make mistakes and make poor choices as they navigate entering adulthood and being responsible for themselves. Most everyone struggles to go through this — especially kids who have been in residential programming and have challenges the average person doesn’t. It can be frustrating and disheartening when they make mistakes and face real-world consequences.
And what are some of the rewarding aspects of the job?
Almost like a parent, when one of our young men gets his first job or earns his first paycheck, graduates high school, gets his license or is accepted into college, I feel proud of them and happy for their success. Helping them go through all the supports and programming and then finally moving out on their own after working with them — often for several years — is awesome. I will sometimes see a past client in the community and when they come up to me and tell me about their lives and how they are doing, that is the best reward! My wife loves it when she sees a past youth come up to me at the fair, at the store or out somewhere and he is happy to see me and excited to tell me about his life.
Why is it important to have residential programs in communities, and qualified people working in them?
Programs like Ellipsis are something communities need. There have always been families and kids who have struggled in various ways for various reasons. Sometimes, it is best for the child to have somewhere safe to be where they can get the things they need, work out whatever issues are going on and either return home better equipped to deal with things or come up with another plan to go back to the community such as living with other family members, going into foster care or trying independent living.
What is a misconception people may have about Ellipsis or residential programs? How do you dispel that?
One misconception is that kids come to Ellipsis or residential programs to be punished for past behaviors or they are “bad kids.” At Ellipsis, we see our residential care program as a way to help young people learn how to handle their issues and problems in a more positive and productive way through the programming and help from staff. The staff are amazing, and it is a great feeling to be a part of the team that makes Ellipsis so special.
If there’s anything else you’d like to add about your role, please feel free to do so!
I feel like I have the most interesting and rewarding position at Ellipsis. I am lucky to have found a career where I feel I’m where I am supposed to be, working with staff to help young men transition through residential programming, pre-independent living and into adulthood with all the trials, tribulations and successes that occur during those years. It’s never boring — that’s for sure!