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The Moment that Clicks

As reported by Family Specialist Danilson Santos

COMPASS Family Specialist Danilson Santos and Clinician Sandrine Cardoso work together to help unite families and put at-risk youth on a better path. The team splits the work by their specialties – Danilson focuses on the youth while Sandrine works with the parent(s). One of their most memorable success stories, according to Danilson, involved a teenage boy who completely turned his life around by working with COMPASS’ Community Services program. Danilson and Sandrine were called by the boy’s mom who was concerned about his behavior and was close to giving up on him. The boy’s behavior was problematic – he was using and selling drugs, failing all of his classes, disrespecting and ignoring his mom, refusing to get a job, and not engaging with any social services.

When Danilson and Sandrine stepped in, the boy closed himself off completely to any type of help, ignoring Danilson’s attempts to engage with him. He used foul language and heavily resisted these attempts, questioning Danilson’s motives and being skeptical of his purpose. While Danilson was there to help the boy, the boy convinced himself that Danilson wasn’t on his side. This boy did not take it well when he was told that he was wrong and lashed out when things did not go his way, making for a challenging start to the case. After struggling to get the boy to accept help, a meeting was held where he yelled profanities at Danilson. However, that meeting was a turning point for the boy, who acknowledged that he resists male figures because he had never had a strong male figure in his life before. The only male figure he was exposed to before Danilson was his stepdad, who had been serving time in prison. It is thus not surprising that the boy had difficulties letting a new man into his life.

Later, the boy reflected on the discussion he had with Danilson and had finally decided to set himself on a better path. Since that meeting, the boy accepted Danilson’s help and the two started developing a strong bond. Things started clicking in the boy’s life and he was able to make great improvements in his behavior. He signed up for trade school from which he is about to graduate with a certificate in plumbing, secured and maintained a job at Domino’s, earned his driver’s license, and has been working on mending his relationship with his mother. Danilson recounted a moment at the end of the case where the boy accomplished the most impressive achievement of all: making honor roll at his school. The boy was proud of himself and couldn’t hold in his excitement when he shared the news with Danilson, and it was a great ending to a successful case.

Danilson speaks proudly of the boy, sharing that this was the epitome of a success story because accomplishments and improvements were reached in every area of the boy’s life – from his familial relationship to his academic career, the boy has begun to completely turn his life around.

This story is truly inspiring and reflects the importance of the work that we do here at COMPASS. Danilson is one of the many COMPASS staff members that dedicates his life to helping others and works with people to recognize their full potential. According to Danilson, he lives by a famous quote by Mahatma Ghandi that says, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and that quote truly encapsulates COMPASS and our work.


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