Newsletter – December 2020

Holiday Greetings!

While this year has been full of uncertainty, reevaluation and reinvention, what always strikes us here at Youth Crossroads are three words — Thanks to You.

Thanks to community confidence in the work of Youth Crossroads, we worked with more than 2,500 local young people and parents in 2020. Our core services including counseling, childhood trauma education, social-emotional support programs, and leadership development activities helped thousands of local kids discover their unlimited potential, against significant odds

Thanks to financial and in-kind support in 2020 from our allies and friends, Youth Crossroads was also able to distribute more than:

  • 4,000 “activity kits” to middle school students that improved their academic and social skills
  • 52,000+ pounds of healthy food and meals to families struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • 400 “thank you kits” to teachers and first responders for their meritorious service during this unusual and stressful year
  • 2,500 other supplies and materials – from PPE supplies, free flu shots, live Christmas trees, winter coats, and toys, toys, toys for great Christmas joy.

Thanks to you, thousands of lives have been touched in positive ways by the caring and professional YC staff, student interns, Board of Directors and volunteers. All of us look forward to the great challenges of 2021 and to your continued confidence in our work!

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!

Dave Terrazino, Executive Director


Counseling & Support Services

This Is Why We Do What We Do

“My supervisors, staff, peers at YC have helped me in believing myself and learning how to improve. I have had a lot of time to self-reflect, and I had to really take care of mental health. Everyone has been so supportive of that. They have helped me in climbing those stairs to success when I thought I couldn’t continue.”

“Something I learned is how important support is to communities, even as small as take-home kits and how they help give the kids a distraction and help stimulate their learning in some form. And they help parents with a distraction when we do parent kits. Being at YC has met my expectations, and I’m grateful to be a part of an agency that cares and always gives back to the youth and their communities.”

And we do do this work because of a heartfelt note from a former student/counseling client, Nikki, who recently did a Facebook Giving Tuesday fundraiser for YC on her own and raised $226! She wrote to her counselor:

“I will forever appreciate you and the organization you have put your whole heart into! You, Michelle, are the sweetest! I hope you and the family are doing well during all of this madness.”


Taking Care Of You & Those You Love

Get ready for an extraordinary event designed to help you get a FRESH START in 2021. Announcing The Best Year of Your Life Summit, being held online January 19-28. ThisSummit is an opportunity for you to reignite your passion, your energy, your drive, and your zest for life… Join in community with people from around the world as 40+ experts help you kickstart your New Year.  

You can sign up now for FREE.


ACEs Connections reminds us that Fred Rogers said play is “the work of childhood.” Kids take this work seriously, they’re good at it, and they can teach us a thing or two about why play is important — especially now.

How to Add More Play to Your Grown-Up Life, Even Now (New York Times article)


Feel the need to vent, release your feelings, share some memories with yourself? Harbinger offers this free journal. You might want to share it with your youth as something they can use during the break. Or even use it yourself!


Youth Development Program (YDP)

‘Tis The Season!

Over the past few months, our counseling team has been running teacher support groups at Freedom Middle School and Morton West High School. These groups help teachers have a safe place to talk through the challenges of navigating remote learning. Needless to say, it’s been an incredibly challenging year for all our teachers.   Knowing this, our high school Youth Leadership Program staff sprang into action. Creating volunteer opportunities for our youth in a virtual world is challenging but not impossible. So we asked our youth to create 200 teacher care packages. 

Fifteen students picked up supplies from our office and assembled kits at home during a “Zoom Christmas Packing Party,” complete with snacks and holiday music. Kits included a hand-written thank you note, a bath bomb, tips for how to de-stress, a tumbler, and snacks.

The team distributed these kits to teachers at our partner schools before winter break. One teacher reached out to us to express her gratitude and said, “You are amazing. Thank you for all you do in our community. Keep up the good fight and have a great holiday!”  

THANK YOU to all the teachers! And big thanks to our high schoolers for helping share some much-needed cheer!



This month, we partnered with the Chicago Hispanic Business Network to sponsor 45 families for the holidays. COVID has so negatively affected our community both health-wise and socio-economically that families are facing extreme hardships this holiday season. We heard from multiple middle school students in our YCA program that Christmas was “cancelled” this year. In program one day, one boy shared how his parents had their hours reduced at work and that he wouldn’t be receiving any presents this year. We wanted to do something!

We turned our office into Santa’s Workshop and passed our toys, clothing, and hats and gloves to each of these families and put a lot of smiles on the faces under all those masks.

After the event, one family reached out to us and asked us to share this: 

 “You guys are awesome for helping us out. Thank you so much. It means so much that we now have gifts for our kids to open on Christmas. They are going to be so happy this year because it has been a tough one for us. Earlier this year, my husband got into a car accident. Additionally, my in-laws are old and aren’t working either. My husband was just able to return to work but after a month, had his hours reduced again. Thank you so much for the donations!”


The Amazing Christmas Tree Giveaway

Look at the beautiful trees! Pictures were sent to us by families that benefited from our tree distribution recently. Thanks to all who helped make this a fun and successful event. The families are very grateful to everyone.

We received this note from a parent and wanted to share it.

“I wanted to take the time and thank you again for the Christmas tree. It’s so beautiful!!!!! It’s our first real tree ever!!! Thank you!!! We really appreciate it. We threw out our 20 year old tree last year and are blessed with this one. Thank you.”


On the first Saturday of the month our high schoolers, parents, college interns, and staff all helped spread some much-needed holiday cheer to the community. With Christmas music BLASTING, we handed out over 80 Christmas trees, a few hundred pounds of food, Christmas tree ornaments, and LOTS of SMILES!!


Youth ~ Connections ~ Academics (YCA)

Congratulations to YCA’s November Student Leaders of the Month. Jeylene Lagunas (Freedom Middle School, 7th Grade) has been with us since our BUILT 2020 Summer Program. She continues to be a conversation starter in YCA and loves playing her saxophone for us to close out program.

Mireya Ruiz (Freedom MS, 6th Grade) is always prepared for a YCA project. She often utilizes things she has at home to make the craft her own.

New to YCA is our collaboration with the YC clinical team. Once a week, the clinical team joins YCA for a Life Skills presentation and activity.


Fernanda Borrayo (Freedom Middle School, 6th Grade) and Emiliano Vela (Freedom Middle School, 6thGrade) won Student Leader of the Month for October. They’ve shown exemplary engagement in program with their attendance and readiness. On multiple occasions, they’ve been spotted helping peers with zoom activities and leading breakout room discussions. To show our appreciation to them and their families’ participation, Student Leaders and their parents are given special prizes.


Cicero Community Collaborative (CCC)

In Local News

The Cicero Community Collaborative High School Committee is excited to announce our new Youth Ambassador Program. We are looking for 10 motivated Cicero youth to help plan, organize, and execute a community service project. The program will take place from January to April and youth will be eligible to receive a $150 stipend.

Apply Here
Read Full Job Description Here


Catholic Charities has a program that offers one-time financial assistance for people who need help with rent or utilities. Information with the contact number and food pantry locations is here.


Here’s a free webinar for teensBalancing the Body-Mind: A Time For You. Contact person is Roxanna Chavez.  rchavez@cicerofs.org, 708-329-5015.

Group starts on Friday, February 5 at 4pm for 30 minutes for 6 weeks
Open to all 9th-12th graders who attended the orientation session. Participants must be able to tolerate virtual group format.

You will learn ways to relax your body and mind, practice self-compassion and how to set daily intentions, increase breath and body awareness, and ways to stretch your body with options for sitting and laying postures.

Zoom link here:
https://zoom.us/j/97508400082?pwd=QkN2RjEwZ2wwN0lUMEcvL2R4b0lrUT09


CCC In The News

A shout out for CCC from United Way from their last food distribution event!

Watch here Read more here


For information on CCC activities and how to get involved, contact Silvia Perez at 708.484.7400 or silviap@youthcrossroads.org. Visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/CiceroCommunityCollaborative.

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 go to Luis Gutierrez (left), YC Board member, and Home Depot staff members for the donation check they presented to Executive Director Dave Terrazino (right). This gift helped make holiday plans a reality for many families.


You can still make an impact for YC shopping as usual at Amazon.com during the holidays. Start at smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases toYouth Crossroads, at no cost to you. 

AND REMEMBER — There’s a new way to donate to Youth Crossroads, thanks to our friends at Amazon Smile — Charity Lists. Help make a difference and support a cause that matters to you. Shop 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! Thanks for helping improve our programs.


Your Gift Matters & Your Opinion Counts

Please consider becoming a valued monthly donor.

Your consistent donations allow us to make plans for new programs,
more staff, better activities and classes, and more.
ANY amount is most appreciated.
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All the good work you see in this newsletter is possible thanks to the support of our loyal donors.
YOU make it happen, and we are most grateful.


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Tell Us What You Think!

If you’d like to share what you like or don’t like about our newsletters, please tell us! Or why you donate to support YC’s mission to GUIDE SUPPORT and INSPIRE local youth. We’d love to hear from you. Feedback always helps us do better work! 

“HERE’S MY TWO CENTS…”