Let’s be that ‘someone else’ today

March 7, 2024

By Jeff Becraft

Back in the YC era, during Orientation for new students and families, I would always bring up the importance of little things.  I would ask them, if I had my family out at McDonald’s and I spilled my french fries on the floor, whose responsibility was it to pick them up?

Usually, people responded correctly: “Yours.”  And that is right.  I would go on to say, “It would be easy to say that there is someone who is paid to clean that up.  That’s their job.  But some day, you might have that job… and you will see what it is like… and you will see what a difference it makes if everyone simply takes care of their own responsibilities.  If I spilled the french fries on the floor, those are my fries.  I need to pick them up.”

One year, an alumni named Daisy had challenged the students, “Be that someone else.”  She explained that we always think that someone else ought to take care of something.

One time, during Year 2… early on in the year… after Poetry Night where we had eaten at the place as part of the evening… everyone piled out when the session was over.  I went around and pushed chairs in, brushed up spilled salt, wiped off tables, etc.  It took me about 20 minutes.

At our next session, I brought up that I had gone around and cleaned up the room at the end of our previous session and I simply asked them, “Whose responsibility is it to clean up after each session?”

They responded, “Everyone’s.”

I then asked, “If everyone cleaned up their own area, how long would that take?  Maybe 30 seconds?  So which is better… for one person to spend 20 minutes cleaning up a room or everyone spending 30 seconds cleaning up the room?”

I didn’t fuss at them or put them down or talk down to them.  I simply asked them questions so they could catch the vision for themselves.

I never said anything else to them about this the rest of the year.

Year 2 became the best group ever in all my years at YC at cleaning up after a session.  After one session later in the year, I was talking with a parent after the session and when I turned to get my stuff out of the room, it was all gone.  I walked outside and looked down the staircase at the parking lot and I see a pile of stuff on the trunk of my car and a student I called the Red Baron walking away from my car.  He calls up to me, “Your stuff is on your car, Becraft.  If we had the keys, it would have been in your car.”  And while this was going on, a student named Recardo was meticulously making sure all the tables and chairs were straight.

They had learned the enjoyment… I said the enjoyment… of taking responsibility for their lives and working together as a team.  What a way to live.  It is a thrill to work together (and not just think of ourselves) and operate as a team.

They had become that “someone else.”

Let’s be that someone else today!


Jeff Becraft is the Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Our Place of Hope is a paradigm shift for people living with mental illness that encourages them to regain meaning, purpose, and hope for their lives. You can connect with Jeff at  [email protected].