Skip to main content

Community support blotters the daily work at Southwestern Youth Services

At Southwestern Youth Services we have rolled up miles of red and green paper chain, packed away boxes of colorful ornaments and returned Christmas trees to their assigned spots in the attic. We have also reverted back to the reality of day-to-day living that, in the lives of our students, can often be quite harsh. 
However, there is one remaining item that the staff and students still cling to from this holiday season that cannot be touched with our hands, overlooked in the rush back to normality or ignored in the stark memories of past family traumas.
Again we move forward with the clear understanding that there are very generous and thoughtful people in the surrounding communities who really care about the SYS students, who genuinely have hope for their futures and care deeply about the welfare of these less fortunate young men. 
As the students opened gifts on Christmas Eve, many had never experienced the joy of unwrapping gifts meant just for them. Some had never had anyone care about whether they are clothed properly, let alone in new clothes, or had someone show interest in their hobbies, let alone supply that hobby.  
Some had never had a new basketball to call their own, a chess set that had all the pieces intact or candy to eat all day.
The students who received new coats wore them while opening other gifts.  And, yes, while it is extremely chaotic during the gift-opening process (just imagine 28 kids opening gifts all at once!), the comments are of surprise, disbelief and wonderment.
 The question, “Someone gave this to me?” is all too common.  When the process is complete and all the gifts are labeled and inventoried, the staff members sit back and breathe it all in.
Just like little kids, the students are eager to show off their new prized possession or shirt or book or any number of other fascinating new things. It is heartwarming and encouraging for the staff to see the positive side of our chosen careers. 
As a longtime member of the SYS team, I am again moved by the outpouring of kindness, altruism and show of support that the surrounding communities demonstrate for our school month after month, year after year. It seems as though I am continually thanking someone for unexpected gifts, talking with someone who wonders how they can help or answering questions about our current needs at SYS. 
This past Christmas was once again a great success, bringing hope, pride and seasonal joy for our students. While we all wish that all children could experience the ideal holiday season, we sadly acknowledge that the reality is much different.  
For the staff, our daily work can be draining and depressing. The support that our school receives, however, bolsters staff resolve with the realization that we are not in this alone. 
This letter goes out to everyone in our surrounding communities with heartfelt thanks for once again allowing us to continue with the lesson that there are many kind people in the world, that hope is not always elusive and that community is not just a geographical term. Christmas 2015 was a success at SYS and we couldn’t have done it without you, our friends. 
Carole Naasz and the staff and students of Southwestern Youth Services, Magnolia 

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.