Christmas Celebrations at YSB

(Left to Right) Residential Program Director – Mackenzie Ashley, Training and Facilities Manager – Scott Bissell, and Executive Director – PJ Corwin deliver Secret Santa presents to residents at this year’s Residential Christmas Party.
Each year, at Christmas time, the Residential Program takes steps to insure the residents have one of, if not, the best Christmas ever! There are several activities that take place. Here are a few of our favorites!  Paper chains hanging on beds- one of the activities they participate in is creating paper Christmas chains to count the number of days until Christmas. Each resident makes their own paper chain with each link symbolizing a day leading up to Christmas Day. Each day the resident tears off a chain link for the day and turns it into staff for candy! Another fun activity is the 12 Days of Socks, also known as the sock advent calendar. For the twelve days before Christmas, residents participate in fun holiday games with the winner “punching” the advent calendar for a new pair of socks. Our absolute favorite activity leading up to the Christmas party is Secret Santa! For the last few days leading up to our big Christmas celebration, each resident begins receiving gifts from their Secret Santa. Each resident has a staff person that becomes their Secret Santa. This staff person purchases small gifts for the resident for a few days before the Christmas party. When the resident gets home from school they find a small wrapped gift waiting for them. Then on the day of the Residential Christmas Party, the residents receives a big gift from their Secret Santa! After receiving and opening their gift the resident tries to guess which staff person is their Secret Santa. It is very entertaining watching and listening to the residents as they try to figure out who their Secret Santa is leading up to the party. It becomes hysterical as we (staff) get to watch them guess which one of us was their Secret Santa. It is a highlight of the party, and always seems to be a big hit with residents!
The Residential Christmas Party feast prepared by Tina Bechtol.

Lastly, we have our Christmas Party. On the night of the Christmas party, YSB staff and residents have a big feast, residents get gifts from their Secret Santa, open that gift, guess their Secret Santa, and then receive their Christmas presents. There is not an adequate way to describe the emotions felt, as an adult watching these children open their presents, some of whom have never experienced a Christmas anything like this one! This is what I have witnessed from our residents: there have been residents who have cried, saying that this is the best Christmas they have ever had, there have been residents that have smiled all night and not said a word, there have been residents that could not sit any longer and had to get up and literally jump for joy. A resident this year was so excited about her gifts that she had to stop and show everyone in attendance what she received after each present opened before moving on to open the next present! Many times, we have had residents tell us that they have never had name brand items before. They are so excited to have received a pair of Nike tennis shoes or Levi jeans that they get up to immediately go try on their new things. The joy they feel is contagious and as we leave for the evening we take a piece of that Christmas spirit with us. Celebrating Christmas at Residential is definitely my favorite part of working at the YSB!

We would also like to give a special shout out to Yvonne Duff who does an amazing job of picking out just the right presents for each resident every year! Scott Bissell and Tina Bechtol for decorating the house beautifully each year! Tina Bechtol for preparing the amazing feast that we have each year, not to mention the super tasty desserts! And to all the YSB staff who go out of their way to make Christmas extra special for our Residents!

Thank you for a fun Halloween!

YSB Halloween 2022, Trunk or Treat events
The YSB assisted with two festivities over Halloween weekend!
 
On October 29th the YSB, with the help of PJ Corwin and his family, participated in the Randolph County Trunk or Treat. Proceeds of the Trunk or Treat went to help support Prevent Child Abuse Randolph County. PJ and his helpers were dressed as DC heroes and villains for this event! During the event 176 children visited our area and received candy!
 
On October 31st the YSB, with the help of Elyse Bost, participated in the Portland Merchants Trick or Treat. During this event Elyse passed out candy and Safe Place information to 436 youth!
 
Thank you to everyone who attended and made these events possible!

Jay County Fair – Patriot Prep Camp

Jay County Fair - Patriot Prep Camp - Youth Service Bureau
Jay County Fair - Patriot Prep Camp - Youth Service Bureau

PATRIOT PREP CAMP

The Youth Service Bureau was excited to work with youth preparing for kindergarten at the Jay County Fair this year through Patriot Prep Camp activities! Over 70 youth stopped by to complete kindergarten activities including making shapes out of playdoh, making the alphabet out of pipe cleaners, looking at nature through a magnifying glass and drawing what was seen, using dice for a counting activity, and a craft that helped students write their names on something they were able to take home with them! In addition, 70 youth received premade kindergarten readiness binders filled with activities that will help them work on the alphabet, numbers, sorting, shapes, colors, and rhyming!  There were 92 youth that were given reading books, kindergarten workbooks, flashcards or matching games! For those families who signed up at the Patriot prep camp for a chance to win a gift card, there were 3 randomly selected winners! These winners won a $50 Jay County Commerce gift card! The Youth Service Bureau is so thankful for The United Way of Jay County for funding the Patriot Prep Camp, and are excited to see all the new kindergarteners next year at the Patriot Prep Camp!
Jay County Fair - Patriot Prep Camp - Youth Service Bureau

Thank You Matt!

The Youth Service Bureau honored Matt Tomano in the May Board of Directors meeting for his nine years of service to the Youth Service Bureau and Board of Directors. Matt served as Vice President not long after joining the board and remained in that position only a short time before becoming board president, of which he held for the remainder of his time on the board. Matt was instrumental in supporting leadership through a number of challenging times during his years of service! Thank you Matt, for all you have done for the Youth Service Bureau and the community! 

Thank You!

Hi Alison!

You have been recognized by a DCS team member for being there when it counted!!  We are all so busy and it is hard to keep track, but there are so many times when our Service Providers truly show up when it counted and those are the times that make all the difference.  Thank you for being there for our families and for us when it counted and for truly going above and beyond to provide a meaningful moment.

When it Counted Staff: Alison Strausbaugh

When it Counted Agency: YSBJC

When it Counted Service: Supervised Visitation

When it Counted Moment

“I want to recognize Allison for being there When it Counted!  Alison has worked really amazing with a parent which is not always easy.  This parent has strong opinions about their DCS Case and Alison continues to work with him and support his needs.  Alison is a calming presence in this father’s life!  He trusts her and responds really well to her.  We truly appreciate Alison’s hard work and dedication to this father as well as his little girl.  Thank you so much, Alison!!”

Say “Thanks” to a youth worker today!

May 5th is Thank a Youth Worker Day 2022. This worldwide movement is designated to bring awareness and gratitude to the largest group of human service professionals. Youth workers are essential to all communities. Join us in saying ‘Thanks’ to youth workers in your community and around the world.

The Youth Work field is comprised of many roles. According to the National Collaboration for Youth, a youth worker is an individual who works with or on behalf of youth to facilitate their personal, social, and educational development and enable them to gain a voice, influence, and place in society as they make the transition from dependence to independence. We are coaches, mentors, house parents, teachers, and counselors; you might find us in community centers, after-school programs, churches, mental health centers and more. Youth workers build the future!

We Would Like To Say Thanks!

We would like to say thanks to the Community Foundation of Randolph County for your generous contribution of $2000.00 for the BASE/Alternative School Program which provides services for youth in Randolph County. The grant was used to purchase sensory items such as Play-Doh, Pop-its, Kinetic Sand, puzzles, and various board games. Students are allowed to play these games during counseling and as a privilege during break times. Youth often benefit from the use of sensory items to promote focus, reduce anxiety, develop fine motor skills/sense of touch, and also encourage language skills. Youth also learn rules/strategies for playing games and also develop strategy/problem-solving skills and collaboration with others as well.

YSB has also utilized grant funds received from CFRC to purchase items of need for 10 youth who actively participate in counseling services and/or have a financial need. Youth were given a pair of shoes, a pair of athletic pants/leggings, and a hygiene set which often included body spray, body wash, and deodorant.

Additionally, a ticket-based incentive system has been implemented this year that rewards positive behavior with food/drink items as well as other non-monetary privileges. Food items/ingredients were purchased with grant funds. Various students are chosen to assist staff and learn some life skills in cooking/cleaning/food preparation. Grant funds allowed us to purchase an electric griddle and Air Fryer. Burgers were grilled with a Portable Grill that was purchased last year due to ongoing contributions from the CFRC.

There are some additional things that have been able to be purchased and utilized for the BASE/Alternative School. We will be creating another post within the coming months to show those things as well. Thanks so much to the Community Foundation of Randolph County for your continued support! We really appreciate it!

– Chris Dubach, Home-based/BASE Program Manager

As a Resident at the Youth Service Bureau

As a resident at the Youth Service Bureau, I would have to say that the abundance of support and opportunities given to me have completely changed the course of my life. Before YSB, I was a terrified, depressed, and freshly graduated kid with no one in my corner to help me make the healthy life-altering decisions that I was being forced to start making for myself. It’s been clear from the beginning that my circumstances would never lead me to any success in meeting my short-term goals, but compared to my peers, I was bound for long-term failure. 

YSB changed that for me.

At the Youth Service Bureau, they provide 24/7 assistance to the residents living here. We all meet with the therapist and case manager at least once a week to work on dealing with our trauma and on independent living skills so that we are better prepared for the future. Also, I believe that the entire experience of learning how to coexist with the other kids living at the Residential House is more than a necessary skill that all of us are bound to work on and learn from each day we live here.

Though, I do want to say that the kids who are placed at the Youth Service Bureau are definitely not bad kids. It is my belief that the kids that come through here have been dealt bad cards in the game we know as life. We just need a nudge in a better direction so we can become the strong, independent, and healthy adults we deserve to be.

Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever had the stability and support of a real home before YSB. Now I have both of those things and more from my YSB family, and I could not be happier.

I believe that, at least for me, the YSB is that nudge.

Thank you!

Madelyn Stratton

Not Too Late to Give!

Every year when our fundraising letter goes out to community members, businesses, service organizations, and other stakeholders the response never fails to amaze me! It is truly a pleasure to live and work in a community where support for those in need is never far away.

Although Christmas is nearly upon us it is not too late to give!

Each year we use part of the donations received to purchase the Christmas presents for the residents in our Residential Program but there are a number of other ways donating to the YSB helps our residents throughout the year. Donations are often used to cover the expense of outings for the residents. In recent years we have taken trips to the Cincinnati Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Fort Wayne Zoo, Newport Aquarium, Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville Slugger factory, Wright Patterson Air Force Museum, and have attended multiple shows at the Honeywell Center to name a few. Donations are also used throughout the year to purchase crafts, art supplies, and replacement items for our residents.

Around this time of year, donations are used to purchase most of the items for our holiday baskets which are distributed to all Youth Service Bureau service recipients. Most of the time we have to link clients to the resources they need in the community as our ability to provide concrete assistance is limited. Being able to give our clients a basket full of food and household items they may desperately need is both great for our client and our staff, as it makes them feel good about the work they are doing. Just like Residential, the donations received can assist all programs throughout the year.

You can mail or drop off your donation any time of the year at 603 West Arch St. Portland, IN 47371. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8 am to 4 pm. We are also happy to accept your donation electronically, https://ysbjc.com/donate/.

Thank you so much for your support,

PJ Corwin

Executive Director