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Monday, October 24, 2011

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Part 11 Now it begins

Life at the group home in Saratoga starts out just like life at the runaway shelter. They don’t know what to do with me, so I get the day off while the kids get sent to school. 

It is the first days of the new school year. Later they will be taking me to meet an advisor who can place me. I spend the day talking to my social worker in her office who gives me several “psychological tests” to see where I am at in my life. I also get the run down on how the group home runs and what they expect from me.

All day long counselors show up to work their shift at the home. I am introduced to so many people that their names all merge in my head. The staff consists of about 20 different people and has many revolving shifts. 

There is at the minimum, at least 5 people working at any given time but on the overnight shift there is only one person, Charice. She has been working at the group home for about 5 years by the time I get there. I am told that she loves the overnight because there is no noise. 

According to my social worker “Charice has an amazing record and puts up with no nonsense on her shift.” “She also has a hotline to the police department,” my social worker adds under her breath.

Now that I am alone, I get a chance to check out the house. I now can confirm that it is as enormous on the inside as it appears on the outside. There are several bedrooms, bathrooms, 2 dining rooms, a living room, 2 family rooms and several rooms converted into offices. 

Parked in the garage, the home owns two vans and several cars. Someone on staff informs me that these cars are used to shuttle the kids where they need to go.

My social worker sits me down later in the day to finish the list of house rules that she feels have been missed. I am told that once a week the staff of the house have their weekly meetings to discuss what’s been going on. I am sternly warned told that none of us kids are allowed to disturb them during their meetings, or there will be consequences. 

The staff has created a demerit system, you gain and lose your freedom all based on your behavior. All week long they have mandatory outings for everyone in the house. They find that this stops fights and has everyone working as a unit. 

Every week there is a staff member whose job it is to sit at the house with whatever kid has lost their freedom that week. They give this shift on the “draw a straw” system. They hope that it won’t be a shift of the week but I’m told that is a busy job. Someone is always in trouble.

The first outing that I will be attending will be this weekend. They are going to take us for a day trip into the country. All the kids will be going and Dave will be in charge. 

Dave is 25 years old, long and lanky with dark feathered hair, he shakes my hand when he meets me. Looking out the window of the office is about the amount of going into the “country” that I want to see. 

To be continued…….

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writing "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.

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