Life is Sweet
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Fresh from the first shift of two that he will work today, fifteen-year-old Junior seems only to have one thing on his mind, food. Not eating it, but preparing it. Hat in hand, work clothes on, he takes a seat, happy to discuss his plans for the future and express his gratitude to those who have opened up new possibilities for him and made it brighter.
A hard worker by nature, Junior works fifteen to twenty hours per week during the school year and forty hours per week during the summer at a local fast-food chain.
Unlike so many his age who would complain about working in the food service industry, Junior truly enjoys what he does and counts it an enjoyable privilege to prepare meals for others. He doesn’t even mind the battle scars that come with the job, laughing as he reveals the dozen or so burns and scratches that he has collected at work.
Back at his cottage at OBHC, Junior helps in the kitchen when he can, making breakfast and baking desserts for the other boys and his houseparents, Mr. and Mrs. Dallalio. He feels it’s the least he can do considering all they have done for him.
“I came here about a year ago,” Junior explains. “It was a good thing for me, I think. Before, my dad was working two jobs, and I was alone a lot. I could basically do whatever I wanted, and that’s not a good thing.” At OBHC, Junior found the companionship and accountability he was craving.
“It’s just homey here,” Junior says, shrugging. “Mr. and Mrs. Dallalio try to make you feel like you are their own son or daughter. They’re just fun over all.” Junior laughs and shakes his head. “They’re sarcastic and funny. I like that. And they treat us well and care for us. They’ve taught me a lot about how to handle people, especially kids that are younger than I am. They also do devotionals with us. Those are always direct and to the point.”
Although Junior has yet to embrace the Gospel message that Mr. and Mrs. Dallalio share with him on a regular basis, he admits that the way his houseparents live their lives does match up with what they teach and thinks that what they believe about God and Jesus is probably the reason they treat him as well as they do.
Fortunately, Junior still has several years to spend with the houseparents that he admires so much, as he plans to stay at OBHC until graduation. “It’s just better for me here,” he says with conviction. “I’m playing football. I have a job. I’m closer to my dad now, too. We’re talking more, and that’s good.”
Following graduation, Junior plans to go to culinary school and then attend college for a degree in business management. Someday, he hopes to own his own bakery and spend all day every day doing what he loves, but, for now, he is content to try out new recipes like his signature triple-layer Oreo cake on the boys in his cottage and enjoy the unconditional love and friendship of his houseparents. To those who continue to provide him with the opportunity to do so, Junior says, “Thank you so much for what you do. Without you, my life just wouldn’t be as good as now.”