At the start of our conversation, Alexa asked me for yarn. Like all of you, everything in my world has recently changed. As CEO, I don’t always get to interact directly with young people in our programs, but this week I spent some time at YouthCare’s Orion Center. Alexa is a young woman in our care. She knits to alleviate anxiety. Needless to say, she needed more yarn.
We tenderly talked about the future and her plans, building up her skills and confidence to find a first job, maybe even the start of a career. She shared that she has severe asthma, which makes the COVID-19 pandemic particularly scary. She set down her knitting project and said:
“Thank you. For still being open and caring about us. For doing hard things to keep us all safe. I actually have a chance to stay alive through this.”
What happens when you cannot wash your hands multiple times per day? Where do you go when the advice is to stay home, but you don’t have a home? In times such as these, YouthCare cannot close our doors. In fact, our promise to provide young people safety and stability must be more steadfast than ever before.
In the last three weeks, YouthCare has consolidated our resources and people power to focus on shelter, housing, food, and love. We know that every young person deserves more than just survival. Yet, for now, we must do all that we can to protect young people and the broader community. This means ensuring that young people can shelter-in-place with us and have supports twenty-four hours a day.
The young people we serve are used to moving freely in and out of our programs—it is, in fact, one of the few things they often have power over in their daily lives. And yet, “flattening the curve” requires all of us to restrict our movement. YouthCare must navigate the complicated balance of keeping our doors open and shut at the same time.
This crisis asks YouthCare to be a safe place, a doctor, a friend, and a coach—without a roadmap or supplies. We are no strangers to challenge. Every day, we break barriers. Every day, we partner with young people who are so often tangled in systemic barriers beyond their control. But we’ve never faced something so big and so daunting before. We are going to have to dig as deep as we have ever known. Together, I believe we will make it through.
Never have I been more proud of the resilience and grit of our staff: the youth counselor guiding art projects and giving young people a creative outlet; the overnight staffer calming a young person who’s worried about a friend; the meal coordinator making sure the most vulnerable young people in our community are well-fed and healthy in the midst of this crisis. These are heroes.
I come to you with a very clear request: we need your help. The best way you can support us right now is by making a financial gift. Responding to this crisis is costly and we need to remain nimble to meet the demands of each day. Every dollar is powerful. We are grateful to have the opportunity to match your donation of $150 or higher, up to $100,000 through the end of April.
In nearly forty years of serving youth, I could never have predicted this day. Now is the time to lean into those who share your values, your hope, and your determination to make it through.
We need you right now, my friends. Please consider a gift of $150 or more and thank you in advance for your trust and support. Most important, thank you for having our back when we need it most. We will get through this together.
A huge thanks to our friends at Schultz Family Foundation and The Anna Belle Kritser II Foundation for bringing this inspirational match to YouthCare’s supporters!
We will get through this together,
P.S. Thank you again for your consideration of a gift of $150 or higher. When you make a gift online, you can leave a personalized note of appreciation that we will pass along to our staff. You can also find more information about YouthCare’s COVID-19 response plan here.