How Do We Define Success?

Picture of Written by Susanna

Written by Susanna

Communications Coordinator


How does Good Samaritan define success? Well, it depends.

When I first joined Good Samaritan as the Communications Coordinator, I remember that on top of wanting to know more about our programs, I also wanted to know how we define success in those programs. I mean, if I was going to be talking to people about Good Samaritan, I should be able to tell them how successful our programs are, right? And sure, that’s part of it. We have some incredible programs with incredible results. However, after talking to staff working directly with youth and families, I quickly realized that while I was hoping to get a straightforward, linear definition of success, the reality is a little different. And that’s okay.

So, how do we define success?

Yes, the data on “x” number of youth and families who have gone through our programs and met their goals is useful. And yes, it is helpful to track certain markers in a person’s journey. However, this data tells a limited story. Success at Good Samaritan is not defined so much by numbers, but by the individuals themselves—their unique story, needs, and progress. We work to help youth in foster care and families in crisis thrive. And what this looks like is highly dependent on the individual.

I sat down with Penny, our Trauma-Informed Care Coordinator to get her perspective on this. Penny has worked with both the youth and families in our programs and she helped me get a better grasp on how success is viewed at Good Samaritan. She says,

“Success looks so different for each individual and each family. I think that in itself is how we judge success. We look at how they are doing in comparison to themselves. We can look from day 1 to day 10 to day 100—whatever it is and see what looks different than it did before. And then their identification of success for themselves is important as well. Sometimes I may overlook something that is actually a big deal to them. And so really using them as a way to gauge their own success based on what they see.”

Penny brings up another interesting point, highlighting how deeply personal success is. A family or youth may have achieved something that is worth celebrating to them that may not have originally been a formal treatment goal. So, when defining success, it is not just the staff member’s view of success, or Good Samaritan’s view of success that matters. Rather, we ask, how does the youth or family define their own success?

Ultimately, success is personal.

This is why at Good Samaritan we get to know the people we work with. The youth and families we serve are the experts in their own lives. And while there are goals to work towards, and markers to signify success in different areas, ultimately success is not something that can be defined in black and white terms.

If you’re anything like me, it can be hard to move away from the desire to always have a concrete answer. However, I’ve quickly learned during my time at Good Samaritan that sometimes the concrete answer isn’t always the best one. So yes, our definition of success is nuanced and can feel rather ambiguous. And it likely always will be. But this allows us to connect deeply with the youth and families we serve. It allows us to truly get to know their stories, who they are, and everything they strive to be. To leave the definition of success open, we leave space to develop a richer understanding of the incredible people we serve.

If you want to learn more about the programs we offer, click here!