As Thanksgiving approaches this week, I'm reflecting on the many people and organizations that support our work and further our mission, from our amazing and dedicated staff and Board of Directors, to our funders and donors, who all give so generously of their time, talent and treasure.
Our annual "Thanks for Giving" dinner was held early this month, where Youth In Need was thrilled to honor a few of our many wonderful supporters. We recognized PNC as our Outstanding Corporate Partner, Jon and Cara Lottes as our Outstanding Individual Partner, and BHR as our Outstanding Community Partner. Clarence Small (Regional Program Manager, Office of Head Start) was given the prestigious "James A. Braun Champion of Children" award. These people and organizations, along with countless others, are critical for our success, and we are so grateful for all of them.
I'm perhaps most grateful to the people we are here to serve—the children, youth and families who engage with us and trust us to walk side by side, sometimes through the biggest challenges of their lives. One of these young people is Angel, who I worked with many years ago. Angel was adopted as a child, and then given up by her adoptive parents when she became a troubled teen. She entered the foster care system, and was placed at Youth In Need's shelter and group homes from her early teens through young adulthood. She was among the first youth to be served in our Transitional Living Program (TLP), and her son was our first TLP baby. Fast forward to a few weeks ago…Angel came to YIN as a volunteer to teach CPR to our TLP and Shelter youth. Not only did the youth become certified in a new skill, they saw an example of someone they could relate to, someone who had been through very similar circumstances, and come out on the other side to be a happy, successful adult.
Angel learned much about being a parent from her time at Youth In Need, from our words and examples, and she's devoted her life to making sure her son and daughter have a better life. Her son is now 18, a senior in high school, and preparing to enter the Air Force after graduation. Her daughter is a freshman, on track to graduate early and begin medical school. We spent some time together after she taught the CPR class, and she wanted to talk, mom to mom, about how to let go as her kids grow up and leave home to pursue their dreams. It was a beautiful and poignant reminder that, like us, our kids are a work in progress and while we may not ever learn the rest of their stories, we know that we were there for an important part of their lives.
Thank you, Angel, and thank you to everyone who is part of the Youth In Need family. Happy Thanksgiving!
"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life was thank you, it will be enough." - Meister Eckhart