Winterfest 2023 – YSB Courthouse Christmas Tree

Our Residential care children have decorated our tree for the 2023 courthouse Christmas tree contest, and we would appreciate your vote!

As part of the annual Winterfest festivities, the Jay County Courthouse is holding its Christmas Tree Contest. Our residents have decorated our white tree with a christmas gnome theme, located on the 3rd floor of the courthouse. Yvonne Duff, who led the activity, wrote about the experience:

“On November 20, 2023, I had scheduled recreation time as helping put up and decorate a Christmas tree at the court house. To be honest, I was dreading it. I have done this many, many times over the years, it had become mundane. I begrudgingly headed to Residential to get my supplies and the girls to help me.

The moment the three girls got into the car, I could feel their excitement. They were very chatty and obviously excited. I thought to myself, let’s see how excited they are as we lug this big tree up three flights of stairs. We unload everything and make our way into the courthouse. As we go through security the girls excitedly tell the officer working why we are there. He gives us directions to our spot, and up we go to the third floor to get started. Interestingly there was no complaining!

We get out our tree that is white and I see apprehension on the girls faces. One asks, “We have a white tree? We are the only ones with a white tree.” But then something delightful happened, and another girls says, “This is great, we are the only ones with a white tree. We will stand out, and I bet we win!!” Her enthusiasm was contagious and we begin decorating.

It doesn’t take long to figure out that only one of the three has ever put a Christmas tree up. They are visibly nervous as they ask what to do. Slowly we get the tree up and the lights on. The girls became very excited. We then got out our handmade ornaments and finished up.

All of us took a step back to look at our creation. The girls started to gasp. They told me it was the most beautiful tree they had ever seen! They wanted me to take their pictures standing by the tree because they didn’t want to ever forget how much fun it was to decorate a beautiful tree. And so for the next 10 minutes I took various pictures.

On the way out, they each went to the officer at the front door and asked him to vote for the YSB tree. He asked why he should and they told him excitedly that if they won, the money would be used for a pizza party for the residents. He asked if he could come and they immediately told him they would love for him to come.

As we walked away, I was once again humbled by the experience of working with abused/neglected/delinquent youth. Something fairly insignificant, that I take for granted, was awe inspiring for three young girls. Something so simple, a white tree with colored lights and handmade ornaments, had brought them joy that they couldn’t help but share. And their joy was catching, as I found myself leaving the courthouse with a smile on my face!

So, if you are at the courthouse this season, look for the YSB tree. It’s the only white one, and it is on the third floor. We would definitely appreciate your vote!”