Dale Smith serves as the Director of Behavioral Health Service at the Children’s Center. A former Probation Officer in Greensboro, Dale oversees three programs at the Children’s Center: 1) Fresh Start, which works with families and juvenile family members who are at risk for out-of-home placement. 2) New Beginnings, a domestic violence program that provides support to victims of abuse ages seven to 17. 3) Outpatient counseling for children on Medicaid and Health Choice.

Dale particularly remembers a young man named Martin who was part of the Fresh Start program at the Children’s Center. Martin’s name has been changed to protect his identity. Here is Martin’s story as shared by Dale:

Martin’s Story

Martin was on probation and lived in a very rural area of Northwest North Carolina. He was having trouble in multiple areas, including significant conflict with his parents. Martin was a 15-year-old who didn’t trust his parents or any other adult. When he came to the Children’s Center, I told Martin that his past is just that—the past—and that he deserved a fresh start.

This young man was as timid as you could imagine and acted like a scared puppy. During our 14-week session, I helped Martin become aware of how we think, feel and react toward others. Martin remained very reserved, but over time, we developed a very good, trusting relationship. That was something he hadn’t experienced with an adult in a long, long time.

Martin was always listing to music on his headphones when we weren’t in session. He told me that he wants to be musician when he grows up, and I saw the potential for great artistry in Martin as we continued to build a trusting relationship.

Martin’s mother also attended the sessions but in a different class from her son. Toward the end of the 14 weeks, Martin’s mother pulled me aside and said, “I want you to know you’ve made a huge difference in Martin’s life because you treated him like a person.” Her comments were completely unexpected and made me reaffirm a belief that people care about others when others care about them.

Now off probation and remaining out of the court system, Martin continues to do well. He’s making good choices and has developed a close relationship with his mother—something he didn’t have before the Children’s Center. Life has dramatically changed for Martin, and I hope he continues towards his goal of becoming a musician.