When the door opened, her eyes nervously scanned the counselor’s office. At 10, she was already cautious and skeptical of strangers.
Satisfied that her surroundings were safe, Morgan quietly slipped into a chair without a word. She fixed her gaze on her tennis shoes and the dirty hem of her jeans.
Her silence added plenty to what counselors already knew.
Morgan’s family life had been troubled and unstable. She had moved from home to home, and had been passed from one foster family to the next for most of her young life.
She was shy, and the look on her face made it clear she had no interest in talking about her family, her life or her fears for the future. Not today – maybe not ever.
Adults in her life thus far had disappointed her, and she wasn’t about to open up to another one.
Morgan fiddled with her ponytail, trying in vain to tuck away some of the wild brown hairs slipping out of the band.
She shuffled in her seat, growing more uneasy as the moments passed in silence.
Then the counselor did something unexpected.
The counselor stood up and pulled a baseball from a duffle bag under her desk. She held it out and gestured toward Morgan.
Morgan’s expression swung from surprise to delight and back to skepticism before she settled on a small shy smile.
With an encouraging nod from the counselor, Morgan stood up slowly, not entirely convinced this wasn’t some kind of trick.
She gingerly opened her hands. When the counselor gently tossed the ball to her, she caught it, squeezing it tightly in her small hands.
For a moment, they locked eyes and shared a smile.
Soon, they were tossing the ball back and forth with ease. Morgan began to relax. Before she knew it, the session was over.
That session was nearly a decade ago.
Morgan has been seeing her Human Support Services counselor ever since.
The trust slowly forged between that shy young girl and her counselor became so significant that at some points in Morgan’s life, it has been the only consistent adult relationship she has had.
Over the years, the HSS counselor helped Morgan through crises in her home life and stood by her as she navigated all the issues teenage girls face every day.
Morgan went on to excel in school, and in the words of her counselor, has blossomed into a kind and considerate young woman.
Those who knew that shy tomboy would scarcely recognize the polished, well-spoken college freshman.
“I was with her for a very long time,” her counselor said. “She knew she could come in here and talk to me. She could have gone down so many other paths, but she is going to do wonderful in her life.”
Your generosity allows HSS to give outpatient counseling clients like Morgan a chance at a happier, brighter future. There are many other men, women, youth and families in our communities who need our help to find a renewed sense of wellness and hope for the future.
Join us in investing in our future, and help us build a better, stronger community – one story at a time. Please donate to the Human Support Services annual holiday appeal.
*Note: Some details have been altered to protect the identity of real clients.