The Youth Go Family

Thursday, August 18, 2016

YouthGo

Contributors: Kelly Hicks, Executive Director at Youth Go, Kathy Moureau, Weight of the Fox Valley Program Assistant and Deb Schmidt, Executive Assistant at United Way Fox Cities

I have been with Youth Go for almost 12 years, 9 of those as Executive Director. The best thing about my job is watching our youth succeed including healing relationships with family members, doing their best in school, and transitioning into adulthood with ease!

Youth Go is something different to each individual. If you ask a youth participant to describe Youth Go, answers will range from: a place to have fun, somewhere to hang out with friends, a place to receive a meal, somewhere to get homework help, a place where they can be themselves, and somewhere that they feel safe. Many of the youth will respond with answers that revolve around the idea of Youth Go being their "second home" or "second family." I really love the idea of that.

One of our Youth Go high school seniors said, “I am fortunate that I had a safe space, known as Youth Go, that I could call home. Now, nearing 18 years of age, when I walk through those doors, I am once again a kid. A kid that can still dream about my future. A kid that can play endless games with those I consider family. A kid that has hope for what is to come.”

This week, Youth Go hosted a family night at Riverside Park in Neenah. For our family nights, the goal is to provide a stress-free environment where our families can spend time together, enjoy a delicious meal, and have fun. It's pretty incredible to see so many of our youth and their family members at each of these events to gather as the "Youth Go Family" to spend time together and celebrate.

We love this event so much that we wanted to invite staff from United Way Fox Cities to join us for the fun. We were excited to have Kathy Moureau, Weight of the Fox Valley Program Assistant and Deb Schmidt, Executive Assistant at United Way Fox Cities, attend the Youth Go Family Picnic this week to learn more about the organization. Here’s what they thought:

From Kathy – “I thought it was a drop in center where kids played games until it was time to go home. However, I learned the students are responsible for completing their homework, planning meals, and setting up activities for the week. They are an important part of the programming and the direction of it. Great life skills! Last night was magical for all who attended the family picnic!”

From Deb – “What really struck me were two things. First, the Youth Go staff seemed to know the names of all the attendees – without needing their name tags.  It appears that the staff becomes very personally involved with the kids. Second, this was a family event and it was very much apparent. Kids and parents were eating together as a family and I don’t think I saw any cell phones out during the meal. Everyone had fun and it showed.”

I am forever grateful to have the chance to work for Youth Go, with all of the amazing co-workers throughout the past years, and to see the way that this place brings people together and makes an impact on the youth that walk through our doors.