This month YSI celebrates the fathers that participate in our programs. We know them as caring parents who provide their children with activities, opportunities, and support to encourage them dream big and reach for the stars. They love their families and are role models in their communities.
Meet William, the father of a teen in our Youth Emergency Service program
William* is the single father of two sons, Gregory (14)* and James (13) (their names have been changed to protect their privacy).* He is in his fifties and has lived in Philadelphia for most of his life. He has always worked hard. William supported his sons emotionally and financially and was very involved in their lives, although he was separated from their mother, who had custody. He never missed a birthday or a holiday. William relies on faith and hope to get him and his family through hard times. He is a simple man who leads a simple life. His favorite entertainment is sports radio. He is engaged to be married to a woman he has been with for 5 years.
When the boys’ mother was diagnosed with cancer, William knew this would be a very difficult time for Gregory and James. He hoped and prayed for her safe recovery and continued to be a comforting presence for the boys. In January she died, and the boys were sent to live with an older sibling.
“I knew it would be such a huge burden on them mentally. They were hurting so much because their mom was their world. They loved and treasured their mother. No one can replace her, but at least they were with family,” William said.
Later, they were removed from that home and placed in the foster care system. Concerned that Gregory and James were trying to process their loss among strangers, William sued for custody. He was denied, so the boys were returned to their sister for care until they were placed in separate situations.
William, Gregory, and James were faced with the death of a loved one, a broken family court and foster care system, and separation. William needed some physical resources to create a full-time home for two teenage boys. Meanwhile, Gregory and James were shuffled around among living situations. It is no wonder that they began to act out and run away. After running away several times, Gregory was brought to the Youth Emergency Service program at Youth Service, Inc. (YSI) by his Department of Human Services Community Umbrella Agency worker. She was very concerned about his safety and behavior.
Youth Emergency Service (YES) offers immediate housing and respite to youth facing housing insecurity or are unable to safely live with family. YES provides a safe, supportive environment, on-site medical care, youth centered activities, links to resources and support to continue in school or get reconnected. YES promotes social and emotional development with programming that uses trauma informed approaches in youth engagement. Youth are provided opportunities to build skills that can prove useful on their journey towards stability and success.
YES provided a soft temporary landing for Gregory, where he would feel cared for and had his basic needs met. The staff and environment were welcoming. Staff began to build trusting relationships with Gregory, William, and the lawyers and advocates involved in the custody case. The advocates were able to activate funds for William to improve the livability of his home so that he could obtain custody of his sons. Gregory ran away from YSI one time, and due to his work prior to that event was permitted to return. He promised to stay at YES until he could be reunited with his family. Gregory participated in all of the educational programs and recreational activities that were offered. He worked very hard to reach his personal goals. Gregory finally was reunited with William during the quarantine.
William and Gregory are hoping James will come to live with them in time as well (he is currently living with his sister). William continues to put his sons first. William is strengthening his relationship with Gregory by providing structure, giving him the chance to process everything, and spending time with him. They enjoy watching crime dramas, talking, and going for walks together. William wants Gregory to graduate high school and plan his own path in life. Gregory appreciates that he has a home and a family that lives there with him. He gladly follows his father’s rules: go to school, be respectful, be honest. Gregory looks forward to playing basketball in the recreation center league once the center is open to the public again. William holds the YES program in high regard, and prays for the safety of the youth there and reunification with their families every day.
Happy Father’s Day William! Thank you for being a great dad and member of the YSI family!
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