Rudolph Morris has spent most of his life with Youth Service, Inc. and has redefined what it means to give back to the community. For Mr. Morris, as he is known, YSI isn’t just a place to work. It’s home. And that’s not just a turn of phrase. When both of his parents were killed in a fatal accident at the age of 12, Mr. Morris and his three brothers didn’t have anywhere to go. In 1974 Mr. Morris entered YSI’s Baring House, a group home for boys, where he spent the next few years playing basketball with the other kids, taking classes, and learning how to cope with his loss in a more positive way.
The staff at Baring recognized his potential early on and helped him pursue skills training through an application to Job Corps. He was able to graduate from Job Corps with skills that led to a job in construction. But his story with YSI was only beginning. Not long afterwards Mr. Morris started as a volunteer with the agency, and two weeks after that was hired as a support staff with the property manager. Thirty- five years later Mr. Morris is still with YSI, although now in a much different capacity.
“I’ve worked in just about every program; I served as a live in house father, to youth care worker, to chef. I’ve seen it all man.” Mr. Morris says, reminiscing fondly on his younger days. “YSI has done so much for me over the years; they’ve really treated me special. They gave me a chance when no one else would” he says, “they taught me how important it is to give back.”
Now a chef at Youth Emergency Service, Mr. Morris finds pleasure in being able to provide for the youth in a different way. They come to him for advice and look up to him as a father figure. “I was in their shoes once upon a time” he says, “so I get where they’re coming from. I can relate to their situation and that means a lot.” Mr. Morris admits he doesn’t know where he would have ended up if YSI hadn’t intervened in his life when they did. He knows what it’s like to feel abandoned, and strives to be a positive role model in the lives of the young people who come to YES.
In fact, Morris spends most of his time with kids even outside of his position at the shelter. Having four children of his own and ten grandchildren, he finds that being a role model for kids isn’t just a job; it’s the biggest part of his life. In his free time he embraces his love for music by playing jazz piano and fulfills his religious duties as an ordained Minister. Mr. Morris knows how important the role YSI played in his life, and hopes to share that with others when they need it most.