It was an amazing day at The Family Foundation School yesterday. Tommy (not his real name), a former student, contacted Mike Argiros, our President, by email asking to come back to the school. Tommy is a now 18 year old young man who left the school several months ago by our suggestion, recognizing that he had no interest in what we were offering and was creating a disruptive environment for our other students. Since that departure, Tommy quickly returned to drugs and a destructive pattern of living. At a point of reaching his own defined bottom, he asked us to consider taking him back. He communicated that he felt like a failure, and that if he didn’t get help, and soon, he would be in jail or dead. Tommy resumed attending NA meetings and attending church but felt he needed more. When a GED teacher asked him why he was not getting his high school diploma after scoring very high on a practice test, Tommy saw this as confirmation that he needed to come back, to finish what his parents had set into motion.
In the spirit of how the founders of The Family Foundation School began, by opening their hearts and home to those in need, Tommy was invited back to interview with us. He made arrangements for his own transportation to the school and met with us for several hours. What we saw amazed and humbled us. Tommy was a young man at the end of himself – humble and sincerely asking for help. By this time, he had been clean and sober for 3 weeks and wanted to stay that way. Why FFS? Why not any one of a number of excellent rehabs, drug treatment or other similar programs? As Tommy was warmly greeted with hugs and handshakes through the day, he commented that “its so good to be back at a place where people are happy, and they really care about you”. During the interview process, he shared how great it was to have people take time to talk to him, ask him how he felt and even to be pressed – “I need people who will be tough and honest with me”. Recognizing that it had been a long time since he sat and talked about emotions, he was at a loss to describe his feelings – having deadened them with drugs for so many months.
Whether we accepted Tommy back of not, this day would be a turning point in his life – a time when he took initiative to ask for help, to reach out and embrace what previously he rejected. How significant that an 18 year old with many options, would choose The Family Foundation School. His father warned him that it was unlikely we would take him back, given his history with us. If we did, his father said it would be “like winning the lottery”.
It was an emotional day for us all – and a day where we left feeling grateful to work in a place such as this – where a student like Tommy would return (with no pressure from parents or threat from the legal system), having felt the loss and regret of what he previously turned his back on. The love, the concern, the structure, the positive environment – all things he had not found after leaving the school. And grateful that such a place exists for young people like Tommy.