Russ was assigned to sixth-grade Tony* during a shift of youth rosters. Connecting was hard. Tony ignored Russ’s phone calls and texts, showed little interest in outings, even cancelled scheduled visits.
Russ felt frustrated, but he persisted with calls, texts and visits — even when those visits felt superficial.
When school closed due to COVID-19 during Tony’s 7th grade year, Russ continued his commitment by delivering care kits filled with food, cleaning supplies, and activities for Tony and his family.
Those care kits must have tipped the scales, for Tony agreed to a one-on-one visit at a school playground. There, the two finally connected.
“It was the first real conversation we had had,” said Russ. “Since then we have been seeing each other constantly and have been able to talk about the ‘real stuff.’ It may have taken a long time for him to open up, but seeing that somebody was there for him and was going to keep trying no matter what helped him discover that it was okay to trust.”
*Youth's name changed to protect their identity