“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” ―
What an incredible year. I guess we say that every year, but it’s true. The Youth Project is in a unique position that we witness the most unbearable pain and suffering while simultaneously experiencing profound hope, courage and growth. It’s hard to explain the impact that has on one’s psyche, but I can tell you, it’s incredible.
We have been working in the Hart School District since 2000 and the impact we have had and the legacy we get to leave, is tremendous. We have grown from one support group at Canyon High School, to 15 groups at more than 10 schools across the valley, providing thousands of hours of FREE mental health. We have moved from helping kids study, to helping them cope with sexual abuse, suicidal thoughts and anxiety.
The Youth Project is a small non-profit agency often times operating with less than eight staff members; yet we look like a giant organization with multiple departments. Sometimes I don’t know how we pull it off. But the truth is we have a small team with big hearts, and big shoulders. We don’t know how to say no to a student in a crisis and therefore we never turn down a request for service. We figure out how to ensure that no teenager is left unsupported; that isn’t always easy to do. But to see a kid’s face light up when he/she/they/them finds their purpose, finds their voice, finds their way … makes the struggle worthwhile. Again, it’s incredible. And we couldn’t do any of this without you and your trust.
2019 was riddled with a lot of trauma for our community. Our kids continue to struggle with anger, domestic violence, sexual assault, anxiety, substance abuse, grief, depression; in fact we had more than 50 suicide assessments – that’s more than 50 teenagers that talked about wanting to end their own lives. Let that sink in. It’s heartbreaking. This is all before so many families were displaced during the fires and of course, before the horrific shooting and loss of life at Saugus High School and before the tragic car crash that killed two recent graduates. It’s just too much; not only for our kids but for our first responders, our teachers, our counselors, my staff, our community. It’s just too much.
And yet here we are. Ready with open arms and a compassionate heart to help in the healing process. There is no turning back, there is no turning on each other and there is no turning a blind eye to the hurting going on right here in our backyards. And as the Executive Director of the Youth Project, I am proud beyond measure to be one small spoke in the wheel of change for Santa Clarita.
The Youth Project will celebrate 20 years of service in 2020. That is no small feat. we have a big budget, with small resources and yet, here we are 20 years later, better than before, reaching more kids than we ever thought possible. But in order to continue making a difference, we continue to need your help. We can’t do this alone. We don’t want to do this alone. We value the partnership with the community, the district and the collaboration with other notable agencies focused on the health and well-being of our kids and their families. Our community is raw, and we are all working towards a brighter tomorrow; and I have faith we will be better and stronger for it.
If you can find it in your hearts to help support our efforts of providing FREE mental health services to all of our junior high and high school campuses in the form of individual counseling, support groups, crisis intervention, crisis response, outreach and education; it would be most appreciated. We often fly under the radar and have joked about being our city’s best kept secret – but we are on the front lines, seeing firsthand what needs to be done and we are doing it the best way we know how. And it never goes without saying – that it is because of the courage and willingness displayed by the kids we serve, that keeps us inspired. The desire they have to be healthy, happy, sober, safe, ALIVE, loved and heard, is our motivator. And I hope that motivates you as well to give to The Youth Project so we can give back to our kids and their future.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey. Happy Holidays from our family to yours.
Kim Goldman, Executive Director, on behalf of the staff, the Board of Directors and the hundreds of students benefiting from our program.