Myra Wilkins: Seeing Being The Surface
“Once you get to know a person, you’ll see you have so many things in common. And that makes you want to work together.” Myra Wilkins has lived in her neighborhood for 23 years, and looks back fondly on the days when a new neighbor would be greeted with plates of cookies and introductions. She remembers growing up, when sitting together with her family to eat a meal was “the best comfort that we could have.”
Myra seems to be, in every sense of the word, a people person. You get the feeling when she speaks that there are no bad people, only bad situations, and that quite often the only thing it would take to get a person out of a bad situation is a genuine, caring human connection. And Myra clearly has a gift when it comes both to the willingness to inaugurate this human connection, and to cultivate it into a beautiful, symbiotic, relationship.
She loves her job as a private investigator, working with inmates to help understand their situations and research cases for them. She knows, however, that to really mitigate the root causes of how the people she works with got into their situations, this human connection ought to be started at a younger age.
“I’d say all kids are good. You see a kid fall off the right road, how did they fall, what happened?” She thinks that often, parents and elders are working so hard to provide a stable environment for their kids and youth they “miss out on a lot of things. We listen to what they say but we never listen to our kids or understand what’s going on.” She recognizes that the earlier that listening starts, the more effective it can be.
I notice once kids get into junior high and high school, the kids can’t even speak. I’d ask them how school was, and they would just sigh” and have one word: “terrible.
She remembers working with one family of 8 where all siblings had records except one, and she struggled trying to figure out what was different about the other one. Eventually, she noticed this sibling always had someone to talk to. “A teacher or a friend, that’s the difference, someone there to support, guide you and give you tools. Without that, life is gonna be difficult.”