Making Sure Youth Succeed, Brian and Sam

Making Sure Youth Succeed, Brian and Sam


Peacebuilder Brian Evans knows that for youths to succeed, their basic needs must be met. He often says, “I can’t teach to an empty stomach.”

Brian facilitates virtual groups with youth detained at the Juvenile Detention Center in Hartford. Brian starts off every meeting with a question. Recently he asked the group, “What does stability look like?”

Brian had a reason for asking this question. COMPASS understands that for youth to succeed upon release from the detention center, they must find stability in their lives.

Sixteen-year-old Sam did not have an answer to that question. Sam attended COMPASS groups while in the Detention Center. Sam let everyone know he did not want to be in the group; he wouldn’t participate and, at times, was disruptive. Little by little, Sam started listening; then, he started participating, answering questions, and asking questions.

Upon his release from the Center, Sam enrolled in COMPASS community-based programming. Brian’s first step was to make sure Sam’s living situation was stable. Brian conducted a home visit to ensure that Sam had a safe place to sleep every night, access to nutritious food, and clean clothes. Sam needed a copy of his birth certificate, a Social Security number, and a photo ID to get his working papers; Brian took him to City Hall, the Social Security Office, and the Department of Motor Vehicles for his picture ID.

Once Brian felt that Sam was ready, they began setting goals. The first goal was to get Sam reconnected to school. Sam was not ready for the traditional classroom setting, and online learning from home presented many challenges. Sam began coming to our community site several hours a day to participate in online education; Sam completes his daily assignments with Brian’s support. Sam is catching up to his school peers; he looks forward to graduation and is contemplating post-secondary education.

It may not be a straight line for Sam, there may be times he relapses to previous behaviors, but Brian is relentless. Brian never gives up on the youths he mentors, and Sam will not be the exception.

Read more about how COMPASS Peacebuilders help Hartford’s youth