Well, my final hour at YouthCare is now here.
As I look back on my 15-year tenure as CEO & President and my 10 years of direct service at YouthCare, I can say it has been the true honor of my lifetime to serve as part of the YouthCare mission to support and uplift young people. As many of you know, I started with YouthCare in 1986 as an outreach worker. In my role, I saw firsthand what a hopeless experience it is being a young person on the streets and how easy it is to fall victim to violence and exploitation and despair. Although I moved on from that role at YouthCare, I never lost sight of these young people. The opportunity to return to YouthCare in 2006 as the CEO was a dream come true for me.
There was a young person in 1988 named Tanya S. who I supported as an outreach worker. She was experiencing homelessness and struggling to leave sexual exploitation and an abusive boyfriend. Despite my best efforts, we lost her to a heroin overdose administered by her trafficker. From my first day as CEO of YouthCare, I carried with me a promise I made in Tanya’s memory. A promise to do everything in my power to break the cycle of youth homelessness, violence, and exploitation. I vowed that no young person would be unseen and unfulfilled because the resources and government did not recognize their unique needs. This was my mission and purpose every single day I have spent as CEO of this organization. I am so proud to say we have lived up to that challenge.
To YouthCare Staff, I want to say how proud I am of each of you and the hard work you do every day. Together, we built an agency that sees young people for who they are and create paths of hope and opportunity, not just to live, but to thrive and grow. Reflecting on my own path out of poverty, education and supportive relationships helped change the trajectory of my life. I knew we needed to bring these connections to our youth. And so we battled with systems and leaders to fight for the unique needs of young people. I am grateful for so many of you who have walked with me on this journey. We learned together and grew together to provide the best support possible, remaining steadfast in our focus on our young people. Together, we made a difference. I am excited to see what the future holds for YouthCare and the youth we serve under your care.
To YouthCare’s Board of Directors, thank you for your partnership You give of yourselves in ways most do not see, and I have been deeply grateful for all your support and leadership through many challenging times. Thank you for your continued stewardship of this agency and its mission.
To YouthCare’s community members and supporters, thank you for caring about our young people. I have been humbled every day by the generosity and passion you have expressed in helping young people find a path forward. I thank you for walking this path with me. Please, stay close to YouthCare and the young people. They need you. We may not always be able to prevent the experience of homelessness, but we can ensure it is brief and that young people are set on a better path. You make this work possible.
To our young people, you continue to inspire me and challenge me to do the best that I can. At YouthCare, I see hope, fresh starts, and bright futures in you. I see it the eyes of every Barista, YouthBuild, and the Tile Program graduate. I see it in every young person who holds a set of keys to a new apartment. I see it in young people proudly starting their first job or their first day of college. And I see it in every LGBTQ young person that feels the acceptance and pride of living their authentic lives at YouthCare. I see and hear it in the countless calls and notes of gratitude from young people so many years later. It has been my honor to be a part of this legacy of love and transformation.
YouthCare’s Board of Directors will be sharing exciting news about what’s next for YouthCare with you in the coming weeks. As I direct my focus to new opportunities, please know I will remain a true champion of YouthCare and its young people.
The work being done at YouthCare is an inspiration and requires deep commitment from all of us to change the course for young people experiencing homelessness and instability. Please keep up the amazing work and remember to grant each other grace on the path ahead.
In closing, I would like to share a quote with you about commitment to this work:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Please stay in the arena! Because our young people are worth our
With deep admiration,
Dr. Melinda Giovengo
CEO & President
PS) I’ll leave you with a before and after picture for kicks and a whole lot of love to you all. Please stay in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 660-7157.