Menu Close

Newsletter – April 2021

News & Views

Here’s a snippet from a recent BDC press release about their recent grant awarded to YC:

“Berwyn, IL (April 2021) A Berwyn Development Corporation (BDC) philanthropic grant was awarded to Youth Crossroads, Inc. (YC) for their Outdoor Youth Sanctuary space. This space provides a new attractive, private, functional environment to serve youth and families more effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. The space will be a respite for youth, and a safe place where they can meet with counselors, mentors, with peers to socialize, have fun and feel “at home” while at YC. The sanctuary is complete with a youth-led mural installation, in partnership with the Berwyn Public Art Initiative that was designed and spearheaded by artist Sergio Farfán.

In addition to the mural, the patio space will feature the YC logo on a new wooden fence/gate facing the high-traffic Stanley Avenue and a bike rack to encourage youth to be active and access the facility and services…

The YC Outdoor Youth Sanctuary helps meet the short-term goal of increasing access to the YC building and its services. Long-range objectives of Youth Crossroads include the capacity to be the leader in positive youth development and local support services. The agency empowers young people to have a collective voice in community affairs, be positive change agents, and develop skills and attitudes that help them move productively towards maturity in this challenging world.

Joel Wallen, Youth Development Programs Director said, ‘This space will empower our youth to collaborate and strengthen their leadership skills that will in turn serve our community well.’ Andy Sotiropoulos, BDC Board President, went on to say, ‘Supporting organizations like Youth Crossroads is a great investment in the future of our community.'”

(See below in Contributor’s Corner for a special thank you.)

Counseling & Support Services

Taking Care Of You & Those You Love

Just because more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet and don’t need to heal from the damage caused to our mental and physical well-being over the past year. We’ll continue to post relevant and hopefully helpful articles that may help with the healing.

New Position – Employment Opportunity

Youth Crossroads is hiring a Youth Development Counselor. This person will be working with our Youth Development team 15-20 hours per week and serving on our Crisis Team, providing crisis support services to runaway/locked out youth. See attached for more information. Interested applicants should send their resumes and cover letters to Jaclyn Wallen at

Jaclyn Wallen, Assoc Dir, Counseling Services

Calling Future Interns – Apply Now

Now that spring is here, we’ve started the process of interviewing and accepting college interns to support the work we do across our agency. Interns contribute their time and talent to all our service areas. If you or someone you know is interested in working directly with youth as well as adding high-level training to their resume, we’d love to see if you’re a good fit for our teams.

For more information, check out the information on our website at or click the application link below. You can engage in a learning experience that will provide you with the practice and skills to move into your future career. Apply now.


Michelle Desideri, Director, Counseling Services

Intern Training – Pre-Covid 19

In Other News – Success Stories

As school starts wrapping up for the year, we ask our counselors and interns to tell you about their experiences with youth during the semester. Here are a few of their stories:
(click on the bold print to read the whole story…)

“I’d like to share a story about one of my clients who was triggered by a lesson at school. This student was consistently attending class until she read a book in which a character discussed death…”

Cynthia Saldana, LPC, Morton Freshman Center

“A family from the Town of Cicero sought out Youth Crossroads behavioral mental health support services to help them through a difficult grieving process. The mother of this family passed away from a terminal illness…”

Claudia Campos, MSW

“Jay, a 7th grader, joined the YC Middle School After-School Program in 2020. At first, like almost 90% of the other participants, he was shy and quiet… “

Katrina Diaz, Youth Development Specialist

“My experience so far with Youth Crossroads has been the best since they are so helpful and understanding. They give really great advice to you too and it’s really helpful. They are always there when you need to talk and are very respectful, like Tayra! She’s really amazing and understanding when I need help. She always asks how I’m doing before we talk about anything else and it’s really helpful. I’m glad I got into Youth Crossroads!”

7th Grader, Lincoln Middle School

“Being an older student when I was searching for a site to do my internship, I was bombarded by interviews that would quickly go south once the interviewer was able to determine that I was not in my 20’s…”

Jennifer Sanchez, Counseling Intern

“Yailani, a freshman student from Cicero is working with clinical intern, Norma at Youth Crossroads. Together they explore how creating art in counseling can help explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem and work on social skills.”

Norma Gomez, Counseling Intern

New Youth Health Ambassador Program

Youth Crossroads, Inc. has launched its very first Youth Health Ambassador program for high school students interested in creating and implementing solutions to address barriers to COVID-19 education and resources in the community. Our team of staff and interns has accepted 10 local high school students to serve as Youth Health Ambassadors from April until mid-July.

My experience as a member of this team so far has taught me a lot about how new programs are designed and put in action. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to interact with youth outside of a counseling setting. I am excited to see what ideas our Youth Health Ambassadors come up with in the coming weeks!

Natalie Palm, YC Counseling Intern

Black Lives Matter

The road to racial equity is going to be a long one for many white people. What does racial equity mean exactly? What can I do to prove I’m not a racist? How do I start to think about racial justice differently? These are some of the questions we hope to provide a bit of insight into in this section.

Youth Development Program

Around Town

This past Saturday, high school students from our Youth Leadership Program spent the morning volunteering for much-needed community cleanup.

We partnered with Berwyn’s 2nd Ward Alderman, Jose Ramirez, and volunteers from the American Medical Association to clean up trash along the railroad tracks.

Not only did we collect 18 bags of trash and beautify our community, students were able to bond with adult volunteers and learn more about their professional careers. For us, while the volunteering itself is important, helping us all feel connected to each other is an even more important component.

Thanks to the AMA for spending the morning with us and big thanks to Big Guys Sausage stand for donating lunch to everyone!

Joel Wallen, Director, Youth Development Programs

Cicero Community Collaborative (CCC)

COVID Vaccines will be administered at the WEST SUBURBAN FCRC (DHS) office in Melrose Park. See attachment for more information.

Youth Crossroads is hiring a Youth Development Counselor. This person will work with our Youth Development team 15-20 hours per week and serve on our Crisis Team, providing crisis support services to runaway/locked out youth. See attached for more information. Interested applicants should send their resumes and cover letters to Jaclyn Wallen at

For information on CCC activities and how to get involved, contact Silvia Perez at 708.484.7400 or Visit our Facebook page at

The Cicero Community Collaborative (CCC), with funding from the United Way of Metro Chicago, organizes local resources to improve conditions for Cicero children, youth and families. Youth Crossroads serves as fiscal agent for the collaborative, with several staff members serving in leadership roles. The goal of the CCC is to help 10,000 children achieve academic and developmental milestones by 2027. CCC has a 3-year plan to achieve this.

Contributors’ Corner

We Couldn’t Do This Meaningful Work Without Your Support

Special Thanks To The Berwyn Development Corp!

The BDC has been a long-time friend and supporter of Youth Crossroads, having awarded us several grants over the past years. The latest, as we mentioned before, was for a new mural in our outdoor patio space that’s used by youth as well as our counselors.

Thanks, BDC, for your trust in our mission to GUIDE, SUPPORT and INSPIRE local youth in so many creative ways that contribute to building a positive future for our community!

Youth Crossroads celebrated its Outdoor Youth Sanctuary ribbon cutting and BDC philanthropic check presentation on April 15.

We Want To Hear From You

If you can take a minute to share what you like (or don’t like) about our newsletters and other communications, please tell us. We’d love to hear from you. Feedback always helps us do better work!


How You Can Donate Now

Please consider becoming a valued monthly donor.
Your consistent donations allow us to make plans for new programs
better activities, Zoom classes with kids and their families.
ANY amount is appreciated. Can you sign up for $5 per month now?
Yes, I’ll become a monthly donor!

You can make an impact for YC shopping as usual at anytime you shop online. Start at and
Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to
Youth Crossroads, at no cost to you.

Another way to make a difference and support a cause that matters to you is AmazonSmile Charity Lists at YC Charity Lists.

Select what you’d like to donate from the Counseling, Youth Development and Office Supplies Lists. You pay nothing extra, and Smile.Amazon ships directly to us. It’s easy! You can do it now by clicking on this link:

All the good work you see in this newsletter is possible thanks
to the support of donors who trust us to do good work for local youth.
YOU make it happen, and we are most grateful.

Please share why you support YC’s mission to GUIDE SUPPORT and INSPIRE local youth. We’d love to hear what your “Why” is. Feedback always helps us do better work!

Stay Connected with Youth Crossroads – There’s Lots Going On!