If "home is where the heart is," then Youth In Need's Transitional Living Program (TLP) is definitely not just a house but a home. I had the honor of once again attending the annual TLP "extended family" Thanksgiving dinner last week. The young people and staff made a delicious feast! Roasted turkey, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, greens, macaroni and cheese, beans, rolls…you name it and they had it! And the desserts? Oh my goodness…sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, caramel apple pie, pineapple upside down cake, brownies, and my personal favorite, banana pudding with vanilla wafers! Even more impressive than this very impressive meal was the tremendous sense of family that permeated the house and the holiday festivities. I wish each of you could have been there to not only taste the food but to see, hear and feel the love.
Before the meal blessing was said, everyone had an opportunity to say something that they are thankful for. Holding hands in a circle with the staff and youth was very special and touching, and a moment I will not soon forget. It was beautiful, emotional, and powerful to hear the youth's very sincere gratitude.
…that I've been free from addiction for 6 months."
…that I'm not afraid to succeed anymore."
…that I'm no longer lost and alone."
…that people care and are helping me."
…that you are all my family."
"I'm thankful for the program, 'cuz sleeping in my car sucks." And "I'm thankful to God and YIN for my life."
I am thankful to each of these young people for their incredible resilience, their energy, their optimism, their talent, and their trust. They give me hope, not only for their future but for ours. I'm thankful to the amazing Youth In Need staff, who believe in the power of potential, and work tirelessly every single day to help children, youth and families overcome their challenges and find joy and success. With their help, our clients are not only surviving, but thriving. I'm thankful to the Board for their support and guidance. And I'm so thankful to all of the donors and funders who make our mission possible. We literally could not do what we do without your very generous support.
From my family to yours, a very Happy Thanksgiving, and a wish that each and every one of you finds your way home for the holidays.