A recent experience with an alumni student reminded me that the way we measure success may need to be redefined. At 1:30 in the morning, an alumni student showed up at the school asking for help. He walked away from the school when he turned 18 (more than a year ago), against his parent’s wishes. But when he really needed help, he returned to FFS to ask for help; not as a student, but as a “family” member. He knew he could come back to “the family” and without challenge, judgment, expectation or cost, ask for and get help. He stayed for a few days, did important work with a sponsor at the school, helped out at the school (did service work), was taken in by staff and felt renewed and ready to leave a few days later, intending to return to his mother to make things right with her, re-establish going to meetings, getting a sponsor, returning to work, etc.
On our statistic sheet, this student was noted as an unsuccessful departure. But, now we are thinking differently. He knew that he could return (even unannounced) and get help, be cared for and pointed in the right direction. We were reminded that this is a successful outcome – it says a lot about who we are, who we want to be – and we are thankful that he felt comfortable enough coming back and asking for help.