By: Beth Pace, OCA Life Coaching Director
Malik is 20 years old. He plans to be a graphic designer and own a business one day. He is a talented artist, musician and athlete. He is kind, smart, hardworking and fun to be around. And when Dan first met Malik a few months ago, he was also homeless.
Dan decided to become a life coach with OCA and attended training in January 2017. He was matched with Malik just a few weeks later. OCA life coaches are taught about the basics of the foster care system, how childhood trauma affects the brain, and invited to be a support to a young person with a foster care experience. They can be matched with a mentee in the range of 12 to 21 years of age. The training helped equip Dan to walk alongside Malik without judgment. It also prepared him to not be surprised if things didn’t go exactly as planned, and to persevere when things got difficult.
“It exposes you to some things that I hadn’t really thought about before. Like the psychological and emotional challenges that these kids face that I hadn’t been exposed to before.”
Today, Malik has furnished his own apartment and is holding down a job. He’s working hard to establish himself as an adult. But now he also has Dan in his life to offer encouragement in the face of struggle and even failure. He has a mature adult to hold him accountable to do what is right and keep working toward the goals he has for himself.
Malik gets support from Dan in many areas of life. Dan has helped him with decision-making, setting short and long-term goals, and what it takes to be a man. He says he doesn’t have anyone else like Dan in his life.
Dan is committed to keep pushing him forward toward good things.
Their relationship hasn’t just helped Malik. Knowing Malik has changed Dan’s life, as well.
“You may be coming into this thinking that you’ve got something to give somebody else, but what’s really going to happen is…if you’re serious about this and you’re fully committed to it…it’s going to change your life for the better. It really is. It’s not easy. It’s a big commitment. But in the end, it’s going to change you.”