Norma Aguilar-Dave, Savio’s Executive Director, was sitting in her office on a typical Friday afternoon when she received a phone call from a colleague at a local mental health center.
“I’m hoping you can help a fourteen-year-old boy in a bad situation,” the woman began. The caller sounded exasperated, which told Norma this was a severe situation.
The caller continued, “he has some complex problems and has been having violent thoughts. He’s so bothered by then that he attempted suicide. That’s how we got involved. But I fear we don’t have the right program to help him.”
Norma sat and listened to her colleague go over the background and details, leaning on her experience as a clinical therapist. Though the teen’s problems were complex, she knew one of Savio’s specialized programs for adolescents was the exact fit and had a long track-record of success. She accepted the referral, though in the back of her mind she knew there was no funding for this situation. The young teenager hadn’t harmed anyone else and had no diagnosable mental illness.
Norma wasn’t going to wait for the boy to hurt himself or another person before providing help. Within a week, a Savio therapist would visit their home for the first time. Meanwhile, an unexpected check arrived from a loyal donor, causing Norma to smile. Donations provide services despite funding gaps, and this generous gift was coming at the perfect time.
The boy and his family are now doing well having been in Savio’s treatment program for two months. The therapist helped the boy’s family see the positive that he had not acted on his impulses. The therapist is facilitating conversation between the boy and his family, helping them all understand his thoughts and teaching them how to prevent or redirect them. Like most children who enter this program, he will learn to manage his thinking and it will ultimately be his positive choices that define him.