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Newsletter – February 2021

Counseling & Support Services

In The News

It’s been a roller coaster kind of year, that’s for sure. You can see what I mean by taking a look at the mid-year summary that reflects the unusual situations we faced this year with access to fewer students, reduced counseling hours, reinvented services, and the difficult reality of establishing relationships online combined with social distancing. We are both happy and amazed that, through it all, we were able to provide guidance and support to so many young people who were in such need of help. We have an amazing team that never gives up.

Mid-Year Glance into the Counseling Dept.

Michelle Desideri, Director, Counseling Services

Around this time each year, we ask educational and civic partners with whom we work to provide feedback so we know how we’re doing in order to continually improve and update our services. A middle school social worker sent this note telling us just what she thought.

Here’s What She Had to Say

Jackie Wallen, Assoc. Dir, Counseling Services

Taking Care Of You & Those You Love

Here are some useful articles that may help you, your children and your peace of mind:

Black Lives Matter

In the spirit of Black History Month, YC did an internal homage to well-known and not-so-known Black persons/events each day in February. Below is the link to a James Baldwin YouTube (one of my favorite heroes) as well as articles submitted by our staff. We kept these short and sweet with the intent to be mindful each day in February of how deep and important Black influence is in our lives. What an impactful learning experience! We share with you here.

10 Quotes from James Baldwin That Will Change Your Life

Meet More Fascinating People Here from YC Staff

Miles Davis & John Coltrane Play the Blues

In Other News – Keeping Ourselves Healthy Too

Last fall, Youth Crossroads’ launched its Wellness Committee because the world was, well, intense. We thought we needed some team outlets to keep ourselves healthy so we could continue to help others. Turns out, this was just the right thing.

Each month YC takes on a different wellness theme and plans staff/intern events and activities so that we can grow and develop as whole, healthy people. YC’s commitment to staff wellness directly supports the youth and families we serve. 

So far, the months’ themes have included: dealing with stress, healthy eating/cooking, financial management, exercise, and heart health. We have been fortunate to have engaging guest speakers, friendly competitions, and prizes donated. If you want to join us in this effort by sharing your expertise or donate to a wellness-related prize, please reach out to

Staff member, Katrina Diaz. Read about her progress from 2017 to now.

Youth Development Program

Mid-Year Stats & Facts

As usual at this time of year, we put our statistics and program descriptions on paper to give you a detailed idea of what goes on with our youth programs during the school year. This year has been quite a diversion from our usual activities, thanks to Covid-19 wreaking havoc on just about everything. In the midst of it all, we regrouped, reinvented, recruited, trained, delivered, and even had some fun. You can check out our summary report here. 

Insider Summary

Joel Wallen, Director, Youth Development Programs

Youth Leadership Program (YLP)

What We’ve Been Up To

We continue to develop our newest youth-led mural project for our building’s outdoor patio area and plan to install three 4’ by 8’ sections with the attached images. Local artist Sergio Farfan incorporated youth designs into our themes of “peace, serenity, dreams, and goals” into each of the pictures. Students have now spent a month working on the concept, design, and layout of the mural. Here are the first 3 videos of the artists at work:

Day 1 Mural Design Video

Day 2 Mural Video

More Progress!

This Is Our ‘Why’

We want to share a few responses from our most recent YLP survey. Recently we reframed the Youth Leadership Program and looked at it through the lens of “belonging.” It’s heartening to hear the youth communicate to us that they feel like they belong. Read what they had to say: 

Question: “The best thing about YLP is…”

Youth ~ Connections ~ Academics (YCA)

Success Comes in Many Forms

Just this past month, a new student came into program, not knowing anyone else in the group. For most of January, he would join our afternoon program and wouldn’t say a word. He would simply keep his computer camera off, and when he did have something to say, he would type it out. Within these last few weeks, I have noticed a positive changed in his engagement. The student now comes to program every day, ready to engage with his fellow peers and has even shown initiative during our group activities. Being able to make even the smallest impact is what makes this all worthwhile.

Cristian Garcia, YCA Development Specialist

“I’d like to share a story that brought a tear to my eye and melted my heart. One of the mid-school students in our Youth ~ Connections ~ Academics (YCA) Program shared with me a very private moment.”

Continue Reading Katrina’s Story

Cicero Community Collaborative (CCC)

COVID Updates From Pillars Community Health:

COVID-19 Vaccination 

CCDPH COVID-19 Testing and Contact Info: 

COVID-19 Updates 

Anna Padron Sikora, Pillars Community Health

Sarah’s Inn is hosting a series of domestic and sexual violence trainings for salon professionals – estheticians, cosmetologists, nail and hair technicians, and/or anyone in the profession who is interested. These trainings will be held virtually in both English and Spanish and can satisfy a requirement for renewing their licenses. The cost is $10.

Organizaremos una serie de capacitaciones sobre violencia doméstica y sexual para profesionales de salones de belleza: esteticistas, cosmetólogos, técnicos de uñas y cabello, y / o cualquier persona de la profesión que esté interesada. Estas capacitaciones se llevarán a cabo virtualmente tanto en inglés como en español y pueden satisfacer un requisito para renovar sus licencias. El costo es de $10.

This winter and spring, join Awake in monthly bilingual STEAM adventures when school is out! Students in 1st-6th grade will explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math through playful learning activities such as constructing a domino run, mixing up science in the kitchen, exploring nature and more. Explorations are created to develop an interest and enthusiasm for math and science. Each activity comes with materials to continue the fun long after the session is over!

Berwyn’s Awake STEAM Pop Up Adventures

Quiero compartir este flyer con ustedes, oajala lo puedan compartir entre nuestra comunidad. En estos tiempos que COVID esta afectando algunas fuentes de trabajo, nosotros contamos con mas de 50 posiciones de trabajo.

In these times that COVID is affecting some sources of work, we have more than 50 work positions.


Cicero School District 99 is looking to hire 30 Classroom Supervisors. If interested, apply through Cicero Public School District 99 under “Support Staff”.

Cicero Public School District Employment – Classroom Supervisors

El Distrito Escolar 99 de Cicero está buscando contratar a 30 supervisores de salón de clases. Las personas interesadas pueden presentar su solicitud a través del distrito 99 bajo “personal de apoyo”.

Learn about all the good work and new initiatives being done in our communities by United Way Chicago. Pretty awesome stuff everyone should know about!


UNITED WAY & Black History Month

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

We’d like to thank Cummins and all the employees of their Hodgkins location for assembling and donating 30 kids’ bikes to Youth Crossroads. Over the past month, we have been able to distribute these bikes to our families as raffle prizes for a number of Family Nights and parent education workshops. THANKS, CUMMINS!

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!


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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?
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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!