Where do you see yourself in the next year?
Where do you want to live?
What kind of job do you want?
Have you considered taking college classes?
It's an exciting time for 19-year-old Slater. As a recent high school graduate, he's considering his answers to these questions while receiving support from the Vocational Options program at Cunningham Children's Home.
"As employment counselors we often tell our youth what they need to do, but with Slater I wanted him to take ownership in defining his future and to begin thinking about the answers to these questions," said Eric.
Eric explains his role in terms our youth can grasp - he's helping them put together a game plan. Recently he has been helping Slater map out his next steps. Eric has offered Slater an introduction to different kinds of employment opportunities. Slater has worked in customer service, received his food certification license, and had worked part time in a locally owned computer repair store.
Because he has experienced a variety of jobs, Slater has an exact picture in his mind of his ideal job. Slater says he wants a "hands-on" job like working with general computer repairs or computer networking certification and the job has to be "interesting...and keep my attention."
Slater arrived at Cunningham's Residential Treatment Center when he was 15 years old. Eric was a shift leader in the unit that Slater lived in, and from the beginning a mutual respect and trust developed between the two of them. "I enjoyed working with Slater and investing my time in him. Every kid needs somebody out there who thinks they are worth it," explained Eric.
As Slater transitioned to different programs within Cunningham, so did Eric. After a few years of working in the residential unit, Eric started working with the Vocational Options Team. Eric helps youth achieve their high school diploma, explore career or college choices, and supports their
"Eric helped me make my educational goals work," said Slater. "And he pushed me to do more. It's easier to exert pressure and change the form of titanium than it is to change me," he said with a grin on his face.
Eric says, "What I do is all about the kids. They need people to believe in them." Because of Eric's confidence in Slater, and Slater's own self determination, Slater is discovering the answers to the questions about his future. Eric says it's been rewarding to help him carry out his game plan while making strides to independence.
"I get to do the fun part," Eric says.