Our organization has always benefited from good conversations with the young people we serve
Way back in the 1970s, our organization formed a council of children and youth to share their thoughts. What began as informal gatherings of “flower children” youth and “runaways” talking to service providers at coffee houses was quickly made a fixture of our organization.
We still take direction from children and youth. Today, our Youth Advisory Council, made up of local high school students who have made a pledge of one year of service, meet once per month with our staff to give us good advice. We currently have nine council members, ages 14-18, who help us understand the issues facing young people, and how to talk to them about the things they care about. They also talk about how peer-to-peer dialog can help young people dealing with mental health issues, bullying, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, or other issues.
Young people with the Youth Advisory Council recently participated in a discussion of website outreach, helping us figure out the best way to represent our organization. Every month, they also participate in a service project at our teen shelter, such as organizing donations, restocking our pantry, or cleaning. Many of the council members have also organized a donations drive for items that the organization needs, such as toiletries, paper goods, or cleaning supplies.
When given the chance, young people often surprise us by knowing exactly how to help one another, doing the right thing, and providing wisdom that adults may not have thought of. In so many different ways, we are happy to have them to guide us as we grow into the future.