A series of articles profiling the committed employees who work every day to strengthen YSI children and families
Dave Wilson recently retired from his position as Supervisor at Youth Emergency Service (YES)
How did you begin working at YSI?
My wife was teaching at Lee Middle School at 47th and Locust. One of her students was a resident at YSI’s Baring Street Group Home for Boys. One day he got in trouble in school and she was going to keep him after school in detention. He was afraid that he would get in trouble at the group home, so she dropped him off that afternoon. She said to me, “Why don’t you apply for a job there?” And that’s how I ended up at YSI. I began on June 13, 1972, three days after I was married. I stayed at YSI for two years before leaving for another job opportunity. I came back to Baring Street in 1983 and I’ve worked at YSI ever since.
What was your experience at Baring Street like?
It was just so much fun there. I enjoyed working there. It was a diferent time. The boys lived there for two or three years, so I really built relationships with some of them. Every staff member was responsible for one or two boys; we would take them shopping and help them if they had problems in school. When boys first got to Baring we would take them shopping for a suit and dress shoes. Every Sunday we took them to church at 38th and Spring Garden. They would get dressed up, we would get them all in the van, and we would give them money for the offering. I would drop them off and as soon as I turned the corner they would take off running!
Are you still in contact with any of the former residents of Baring Street?
Believe it or not, they still come back to see us – Ms. Munson, Mr. Morris, and me. I’m 63 and some of them are 55 years old! They come by YES and we catch up.
What experiences at YES have been most rewarding?
I’ve enjoyed the trips we take every summer – touring Harlem in New York, visiting the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and going to Washington, DC. I’ve learned that some teens have never been out of Philadelphia before. They really enjoy themselves and they’re always well behaved. Last year we saw The Lion King on Broadway; some of the youth were blown away by the experience. For the last few years we’ve been invited to watch Phillies games from Roy Halladay’s personal box at the stadium. The teens have really enjoyed it and you realize that they would never be able to have this experience if not for YSI.
What will you miss about YSI?
I’ll miss Ms. Dyson, Mr. Morris, and a lot of other folks around here. Even though it’s a pain sometimes, it’s exciting and it keeps you going. If everything was smooth all the time, it wouldn’t be a good job. Sometimes things have happened and I’ve thought, “Wow. I’ve been working here for more than 30 years and I’ve never seen that happen before!”
Do you have plans for retirement?
I’m going to work on my health. My wife passed away about four years ago from cancer; she had been teaching for close to 37 years. She was really looking forward to retiring but was never able to, so I decided that I would retire when I could.
What do you want to say to your colleagues?
You’re here for the kids and that’s your main focus. You’ll never make a lot of money working here, but you’ll become rich through the experiences you have.