Youth Villages stories

LifeSet  specialist, Darin Hudson

How I got “LifeSetted”: Q&A with Darin Hudson, LPE with Turning Points

Apr 26, 2022 | Blog, LifeSet

Darin Hudson joined Turning Points in 2014. He began as a LifeSet specialist and is now in coaching to be a Licensed Program Expert for the Turning Points teams. In this Q&A, Darin shares details about his journey from specialist to Licensed Program Expert with the hope of inspiring others to take the opportunity to grow with LifeSet.

What was it about LifeSet that attracted you?

In Philadelphia, the child protective services and the bureaucracy of the foster care system have been failing our adolescents. The pitch Lauren Willis, my manager, gave me was ‘here is what I believe is the solution for the things that ail our older youth.’ 

Here’s another part of the back story: I got my master’s degree in mental health counseling, and I did not have a social work background. So, word got around that I was more clinical than the average social worker. LifeSet provided an opportunity for me to stretch in this role, it will stretch you. 

Why a Licensed Program Expert?

I’m here in my role today because of the previous four years. Lauren’s been very keen on what makes people tick and what people are passionate about. She found out that I am passionate about all things clinical and my love for young people. She told me within the first year of me being a specialist that she could see me moving up in LifeSet. I respected what she said, but I cautiously wondered what that would look like. 

Around 2018, LifeSet ‘lifesetted’ me; we turned it into a verb. I became sort of a visionary inside LifeSet. I wanted to come out of my comfort zone. I wanted to see if I could expand my reach in serving young people. That was the first stab I took at being a clinical supervisor. 

I was a specialist for a year-and-a-half, and then I accepted the role of a clinical supervisor. I loved it. I loved the idea of expanding my clinical knowledge and developing others. I love all things clinical, all things relational. It was an opportunity to grow. It made me develop closer relationships with the licensed program experts at Youth Villages. It was a different type of work, a different type of accountability. In addition to my growing passion and a deeper exposure to the licensed program experts, it appealed to that clinical side of me. 

I was a supervisor for two years. I enjoyed being a supervisor, but I wondered what it would be like to be a licensed program expert. That seed was sown, and throughout the course of the next two years, I was introduced to several licensed program experts at Youth Villages. That started an internal conversation with me. When we found out it could be a reality, we were crossing our fingers and thinking what that would look like for me—the logistical things like studying for the exam, passing my licensure exam, getting the hours. Those were the necessary pieces.  

What gave me the confidence to go there was what others saw inside me and planting that seed until it stuck. That’s the difference. Youth Villages has been supportive overall; Turning Points has been supportive overall. We have a culture in a lot of programs at Turning Points that is nurturing, complimentary. 

But something happened to me around 2018. Different people are consistently planting seeds in me. It made me look inside and say, ‘let’s give it a try.’ I haven’t looked back. 

What is your license in?

I’m an LPC, a Licensed Professional Counselor. 

What would you say to an individual who wants to work in LifeSet?

You want to make sure you’re built ‘special.’ This program is bigger than all of us. If you embrace this model and what it stands for; if you already have a heart for young people and positive change; if you are resilient and understand your strengths and weaknesses; if you want to be developed, then LifeSet is the program for you. 

I joked about it earlier, but we’ve turned LifeSet into a verb here in Philadelphia. We believe anyone can get ‘lifesetted.’ This is a program for people who want to practice what they preach. We can spread our reach by embracing what this program stands for—we respect people; we stay strength-based; we’re protective; we’re nurturing; we’re professional; we’re fun. All of that goes into this program. 

If you’re a person that has that or a person that struggles in some of those areas but wants to be that and you’re ready to take that plunge, LifeSet is where you want to go. 

What makes LifeSet different? What makes it stand out from other programs?

LifeSet is the perfect marriage between the clinical and case management. To add a layer to that, for Philadelphia LifeSet, we take a spirit of our own. Being a Philadelphian, we hear about Rocky Balboa, the underdog, the down and dirty. That’s the spirit we carry here in Philly. That’s what makes us special. The model that LifeSet has and the Philly flavor we put on it. That’s what makes us feel unique here. 

Anything else about LifeSet?

One last thing is LifeSet gave a language to what my purpose is. I’m a philosophical guy.  I feel like for the first time ever in my career I’m fulfilling my sense of purpose beyond anything I imagined. I can’t say I’m at the pinnacle of anything because I feel so inspired by what LifeSet provides these young people. That inspiration, I can’t see it stopping just because it’s 2022. I don’t know how much more inspired I will be, but I know that working in LifeSet has been exponentially inspiring to me. This is tough work, hard work, but LifeSet has shown me that I’m built for it. I’m in it for the long haul.