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  • Thomas G. Sowell

Heartbreaking Goodbye: Some things you never forget.

Updated: Aug 7



In the spring of two thousand five, I decided to make a career change. Little did I know at the time it would be a short one. At that point in my life, I had been in luxury automobile sales for quite some time and was making a good living at it.


And even though this career change was going to require me to take a pay cut, I had a stronger desire to make a difference in the lives of others. And since two of my children had already graduated from high school, and my youngest daughter was a junior in high school, I felt it was a good time to make a career change. So I did!


I began this new journey by applying for the position of Campus Supervisor at a Children’s Behavioral Treatment Center. I really didn't have much experience in this field, but I had dealt with children, especially teens for most of my adult life. Mostly through coaching them in a variety of different sports, but also from serving as a Youth Pastor in my earlier days.


To make a long story short, I passed the in-depth job interview and heavy-duty background check and was offered the job! And of course, I accepted it.


I served many roles as Campus Supervisor, but my primary job was to keep everyone on campus safe. Whether they were in the cottage, on campus, or inside the classroom. I had a phone strapped to my hip and was called every time there was a problem, and believe me, when I first started, there were lots of problems!


These problems were usually well out of control before I arrived on the scene! Mainly because, the young ladies we helped were coming to us from either a detention center or psychiatric hospital. So, things could escalate and become extremely dangerous in a matter of seconds!


There was one thing I learned quickly; these young ladies knew how to evaluate someone to make sure they were right for the job. And the way they would evaluate us, was by creating major chaos, this way they could find out if we could manage the situation in an acceptable manner.


If you passed the test, the girls would begin to calm down a bit. Meaning, they felt you could be counted on in the future to keep them safe. If you did not pass the test, they would continue to create major chaos until someone came along who could pass the test! Yes, these were very "street smart" young ladies, and I am happy to say I passed the test!


For the most part, I felt like a father to these young ladies. And they treated me, along with the rest of the staff who were able to keep them safe, with a respect they had longed to have for their parents. Someone who made them feel loved, safe, and secure. While also providing structure in their young lives! This was pretty much the norm at the treatment center, except for a small percentage of the girls who had no intention of getting better!


This small percentage of residents knew if they caused enough trouble, they would eventually go back into a detention center, or be admitted to a mental hospital. Which sadly, they preferred over having responsibility and structure in their young life! Nothing we did for these certain residents seemed to produce positive changes in their behavior. They were on a mission to get out of there, and unfortunately were going the wrong way about it!


This was a shame on so many levels, but the thing that weighed on my mind most, was I always felt we had to spent so much time dealing with the girls who caused constant chaos, that the rest of the girl's didn't get the treatment they deserved!


We had to physically retrain this small percentage of girl's a lot! And being that we could not have padded walls in our isolation rooms, every time we put a resident in an isolation room to allow them some time to calm down, while also trying to keep the other residents safe, they would begin banging their head on the cinder-block walls. Knowing, we would have no choice but to come back in and restrain them again! And this is what eventually led to the end of my new career.


Near the end of my first year at the treatment center, I injured my shoulder. This injury caused me to be in intense pain every time I had to restrain someone. But even worse than the physical pain, my heart was broken! Because, I knew that I could no longer keep the residents, the staff, nor myself safe anymore. So, my newfound career officially came to an end!


During my last day on campus, as I went around saying my goodbyes to all the girls, it became very apparent that this day would stand out as one of the saddest days of my life! And once I finished saying these goodbyes, I left the gates of the campus for the very last time!


I then stopped by the administration building, which was just out of the eyesight of the residents on campus. I wanted to say a few more goodbyes to beloved staff members before I left.


After saying these last few goodbyes, I started walking towards my truck, not realizing that the residents had already made their way to dinner, and were eating at an outside pavilion that evening. As I saw one last staff member in the parking lot, I went over to give them a hug. As I did so, I unknowingly came within eyesight of every young lady on campus.


But trust me, it was not unknowing for long! Because the next thing I heard, was the eruption of a loud standing, stomping, and screaming ovation.


It was coming from that outside pavilion and was directed at me! It sounded like a miniature version of a high school football stadium, when the home team scored a touchdown! But for me, it felt like I had just thrown the winning touchdown pass in the last seconds of the Super Bowl. Words cannot describe how much love and appreciation I felt in that moment. It's a day I will cherish for the rest of my life!


But sadly enough, just after experiencing that wonderful moment, I left the treatment center for the very last time. But one thing is for sure, the treatment center has never left me. I now have a passion to get to the heart of the problem. A problem that leaves so many lives in disarray. And I believe the problem is the condition of the human heart.


Therefore, I will never stop trying to improve the condition of people's hearts for as long as I am on Planet Earth. If I can just help one person from ever having to go through what these young girls went through, it would be an enormous success. But I hope and pray, it will be many!


My number one purpose for the rest of my days on this planet, will be to teach as many people as possible how to exchange the image inside their heart, from that of their upbringing and environment, to the image that God has of them.


If I am successful, our world will become a much better place to live in. And just maybe, one day there will be less need for Children Behavioral Centers and more need for Christian Family Worship Centers!


"Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.


"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.


A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.


But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.


For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."


Matthew 12:33-37 (KJV)


Thanks for reading today, and may God bless you all...


Thomas G. Sowell



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