Voice of Our Readers
To the Editor:
I should have known. Yep, I just should have known. Looking back now, all my worry was for naught. Let me explain:
Albeit there are some students transferring in and out during the school year in most public schools, Southwestern Youth Services (SYS) is not like others where the school year begins and ends with a majority of the same students. We maintain a continually revolving door with long-term and short-term students coming and going almost weekly, sometimes daily, throughout the calendar year.
So as the Christmas season approaches each year, the anxiety levels are very high with our students who are not even sure where they’ll be spending the holiday. Family issues, often traumatic memories of the season, abandonment and behavioral challenges make Christmastime at SYS a most difficult time of year. Most of our students do not have the “warm fuzzies” that accompany Christmas, and many put up emotional barriers to protect themselves from further disappointment.
Christmas 2016 brought a larger than normal number of unexpected students to our doors during December, and I have to admit that I was worried on how to spread out the donations that we had received. This is the point that my own doubt and worry began to creep in. Wow, did the surrounding community come through to prove my worry was futile.
Normally when a student arrives at our doors, it is not hard to imagine their emotional state upon entering a facility such as SYS. Caution, distrust, depression, anxiety and anger are only a few of the emotions, but add on to it the pressure of the holiday season and not having any rapport with your new peers and staff and you begin to understand the isolation one might feel.
So, when once again the surrounding community showed up in a big way to support our cause with an outpouring of Christmas gifts for the young men at SYS, we were able to provide all of them with something most had never before experienced. New coats, team blankets, board games, candy, socks and underwear, clothing, calendars, art supplies, hygiene items, books, footballs and basketballs, new shoes, cash donations, and many other items poured into our school. Even the new enrollees were able to receive unexpected gifts, drop a few of their emotional barriers, and feel the joy of gifts given freely and without conditions attached.
So, I have learned my lesson. SYS is part of a larger community that time after time has supported our cause of helping these less fortunate young men. As we seek to provide opportunity, education, and reasons for hope and pride in our students, I am most humbled to once again say thank you, thank you, thank you for the outpouring of kindness and support. I will not doubt again.
Staff and Students Southwestern Youth Services