Year End Appeal

As we are all in the midst of a busy and demanding holiday season, I’d like to take a moment to share a story about a client named Vanessa. Vanessa has experienced several layers of support thanks to you and is a true representation of Youth Services’ ability to wrap our services around each client’s individual needs to ensure their success, safety, and health.

Thanks to our unique treatment model and agency standards, many children find the hope and resources they most need within our walls due to generous donors like you.

When Vanessa was 13 she had thoughts of suicide and her school quickly connected with Youth Services through our crisis response partnership. It was evident she needed services immediately. Vanessa was able to qualify for the agency’s scholarship program and started working with Jess, a Youth Services clinician. With a tumultuous home life that involved emotional and physical abuse by her parents, Vanessa was overwhelmed as the primary caregiver for her younger brothers with their own behavioral issues – a job beyond her abilities. Despite her parents’ limitations and a chaotic family life, Vanessa exhibited an abnormally high level of resiliency well beyond her years. A social skills group was layered on to her therapy to help Vanessa develop friendships and healthy relationships with her peers in a trusting way.

During her junior year of high school, Vanessa was hospitalized for unhealthy eating habits and suicidal thoughts tied to the emotionally chaotic environment in which she lived with her family. Jess would frequently work with outside supports to assist in managing family conflicts. Over time, identifying and understanding her parents’ limitations, reinforcing personal strengths, coping skills, and safety planning helped Vanessa move forward. Armed with this work, Jess supported Vanessa through her college application process, and she was quickly accepted into a university. Facing the real fear of who would care for her brothers became their new focus, as Vanessa identified her passion for construction and placed first in the high school state competition – the first female to do so in Illinois.

Despite scholarships and aid, Vanessa felt unable to go to college with no parental support or guidance. Jess spent several sessions focused on preparing for this transition. In addition, Youth Services’ EASING program and generous donors provided most of the items Vanessa needed for her dorm room. Vanessa’s hard work meant she was able to take this important next step in life and she officially ended therapy in August 2019, two days before leaving for college to pursue a degree in construction.

Vanessa’s story is a unique way of looking at the many ways Youth Services plugs into the needs of families in our community. Our crisis response, individual and group therapy, EASING program, collaborative support with other services, and our work to truly wrap around the needs of a client are what made her future possible. There is also one key in this story: Donors like you.

Vanessa’s home and financial situation made our scholarship program her only option. She relied on our promise that no child will be turned away based on ability to pay. Every interaction she had with Youth Services was made possible by donors and our promise that every child should grow up happy, healthy, and with hope. As we enter the second half of the school year our crisis response calls are double what they were at this time last year. Each of those calls are a potential story like Vanessa’s.And each deserves the same resources, time, and attention. Can you ensure we are there to respond in the same way? As you consider your holiday season, please know Vanessa is there feeling thankful for the bright future you helped make possible – and so are we.

With deep appreciation,

Amy O’Leary
Executive Director, LCSW


Your support will ensure each child who comes through our doors has
the opportunity to grow up happy, healthy, and with hope.