NewsFeed @ Youth In Need | January 16, 2018
YIN to Honor Longtime Board Member
Celebrate with us at the 31st annual Celebration of Youth gala and auction as we honor Tracy Mathis, Attorney at Lewis Rice, on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at Ameristar Casino Resort Spa. Tracy has been a tremendous asset for Youth In Need as a Board member and advocate for more than 30 years, having served as Board Chair not once but twice during her tenure.
Help us celebrate!
- Sponsor the event at a wide range of levels from $500 to $10,000.
- Donate goods or services to the event’s silent and live auctions.
- Advertise in the event program that is distributed to more than 500 guests.
- Purchase a table or individual tickets to attend the event.
- Contribute a monetary donation to help underwrite event expenses.
Pat’s Chat: My Boss, My Mentor, My Friend
As we remember and celebrate the life of Jim Braun, and mourn his loss, I would like to share my reflections about what Jim meant to Youth In Need and to me. While the scope of his impact is truly incalculable, my thoughts echo what we have heard from so many others about the profound impact Jim had on their lives and organizations as well.
Jim was incredibly smart and extremely kind. He had one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever met, with keen insight and a quick grasp of complex issues, as well as a lifelong curiosity and love of learning. His intellect was only surpassed by his compassion. Known for his kindness, Jim was intensely interested in people—their backgrounds, families, interests, etc. So many people, including colleagues in the community, Youth In Need staff, board members and former clients say they were transformed in some way from knowing Jim. I heard the phrase “changed for the good” and that resonates strongly with me as well. Over the years, and during the past few weeks, I’ve heard many stories from people who will always remember how Jim helped them during a particularly difficult time in their life.
Jim’s boundless compassion led him to the field of social work, where he became an advocate for marginalized populations and for diversity, equity and inclusion. He stood up for young people, members of the LGBT community, people of color, families experiencing poverty, New American immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities (just to name a few).
Jim guided and supported me and so many others, sharing his wisdom and experience to give us lessons in empathy and humility, lessons in leadership and in life. Jim adored his wife, sons and grandchildren, and often shared stories about his family life. I know many of us are not only better leaders because of Jim’s words and example, but are better colleagues, parents, partners and friends.
Many people involved with Youth In Need, as staff, volunteers or supporters, talk about the organizational culture and how it has changed not only their work but their lives. Jim drove us to adopt strengths-based principles, which transformed our agency. He created and supported an inclusive culture where staff are empowered to be their best, and to bring their whole selves to work. He also instilled a solution-focused approach and a “never give up” spirit of persistence and grit.
Jim had a truly profound influence on my life, personally and professionally. We spent over two decades working closely together. Both early risers, we were typically first in the office and would spend time together in the morning discussing issues big and small. After he retired five years ago, we continued this, often communicating via phone, text or e-mail in the early morning hours about politics and other issues. Jim believed in me and saw my potential. From early on in my career at Youth In Need, where I started as a therapist in 1990, he encouraged, supported and challenged me. He pushed and pulled me out of my comfort zone (sometimes reluctantly) giving me opportunities to learn and grow, and helping me develop into a leader. An extraordinary mentor and role model, Jim gave me honest and insightful feedback, and candidly shared lessons he had learned, sometimes the hard way.
What always struck me the most about Jim was that he saw the good in everything and everyone. He truly believed that problems presented opportunities, and that there’s something to learn in every situation. He believed that every child, every teen, every family and every staff member, no matter how dire their situation or how deep their troubles, has unique and powerful strengths to contribute, and he devoted his life to make sure they have a chance.
Jim continued to model and teach powerful lessons, by word and example, as he lived with a devastating illness for more than two years. His courage, honesty, humor and grace were humbling and inspiring. He felt the past two years were a gift, and he died at peace, satisfied that he had left no words unsaid, and that he lived a life filled with meaning and purpose. He wrote: “My hope is that when people remember me, they will be reminded of their own mortality, take time to cherish and nurture relationships in their lives, and be mindful to provide kind thoughts, prayers, and meaningful actions to those that struggle without the advantage of loving family and friends.”
When I hear the quote “Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly,” Jim immediately comes to mind. He lived his life working for justice for those most vulnerable in our community, and did so with kindness and humility. Rest in peace, dear Jim, and know that your legacy of service and love will live on in our hearts.
Holiday Drive Spreads Magic of the Holiday Season
As we reflect on the end of the holiday season, we’re once again overwhelmed by the generosity of our holiday donors. Many local businesses, individuals, schools and community groups participated in the agency’s annual holiday drive, helping to ensure that all of the children and youth had a memorable holiday. Not only did these groups adopt programs and children during the holidays, but they are also volunteered to collect and sort gifts for Youth In Need’s programs.
Boatload of Toys was back for the eighth year. Radio personalities from 93.7 The Bull spent the weekend broadcasting live at Bass Pro Shops in St. Charles, collecting books and toys for the children Youth In Need serves and hygiene supplies, hoodies and duffel bags for the teens.
In addition to Boatload of Toys, Youth In Need received significant holiday support from Church of the Shepard, who adopted 100 Foster Care youth, and SAK Construction, St. Charles City-County Library District, Toys for Tots, Craftsmen Cares, Laird, Centene and MasterCard also jumped in to support programs with an assortment of donations, including toys, learning tools, books, art supplies, blankets, coats and hygiene supplies.