Our Better Angels by Jonathan Reckford

Our Better Angels by Jonathan Reckford

Author:Jonathan Reckford
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group

Don’t Let the Tool Belt Fool You

Donna Ricca knew she wanted to help people. She had always wanted that. But so far, she hadn’t found just the right way.

She’d wanted to be a teacher, but her college adviser had talked her out of it. When she was a student during the early eighties, there weren’t many jobs in elementary education in the area around Summit, New Jersey, where she lived. Used to accepting the advice of those older and wiser, she’d followed the adviser’s guidance and instead majored in human communication, with the recommended goal of landing a position in public relations or marketing. It turned out there weren’t many jobs in those fields either. But maybe that was a good thing.

She got a job right out of school as a residence care counselor at a home for boys with emotional and behavioral problems. Most had been expelled from school, some had been charged with crimes, and almost all of them had been abandoned as lost causes. These boys weren’t what most people had in mind when they said they wanted to work with children, but Donna quickly discovered she liked working with these boys no one wanted around. She thought they were cool. She liked spending time with them. Where other people saw lost causes, she saw hidden potential obscured by layers of neglect and abuse. She knew she wanted to do something in her life that could help these kids and their families.

In her next job as a police officer, she thought she’d be able to do just that, but she quickly found out that by the time the police were called, the blood was already on the floor. If she could only rewind the tape of time back and pause and say, “What’s really going on here?” When she went out on calls, she found herself delving into the lives of the victims and the perpetrators. There were reasons why people did what they did, and she couldn’t keep from wondering whether if their earlier circumstances had been different, they’d never have been in these situations.

Time after time, she’d tell her supervisor that the people on the scene needed some kind of further intervention. “Ricca,” he’d say over the radio, “get in and get out. Your job is to get there, take the report, and pass it on to somebody else.” But for Donna, getting in and getting out wasn’t enough.

Keeping her day job as an investigator, she started graduate classes in psychology with the hope of becoming a full-time licensed psychologist. Her heart was set on prevention. If only she could get to people earlier in their lives and help them prevent the disasters waiting for them around the corner … She was convinced that if somebody had done right by these people when they were children, they wouldn’t have gone on to be in residential homes, be sedated, or be labeled as lost causes.

What she didn’t think about at the time was how different her


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