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Newsletter – February 2022


Mental Health services is a field that is constantly changing. As the field learns more, we adjust
and implement new strategies to give the individuals we work with better outcomes from our
services. Additionally, there are many issues that arise within the groups of youth and families,
no one can specialize in everything. This keeps Youth Crossroads Counselors on their toes,
learning what we are not familiar with and sharing that information with others. As professional
therapists, it is important for YC Counseling staff to always keep learning. Here at YC we do this
in three different ways.

The first is through individual and group supervision. We all have our own strengths based on
our experiences both within YC and from our previous professional lives. We work well as a
Team, supporting each other and sharing our own personal expertise with each other.
Secondly, YC Counseling staff regularly attend trainings to increase our skills and knowledge.

Over the last month, Counseling staff participated in 4 days of training, two around therapeutic
interventions for individuals who have experienced trauma, facilitated by Bessel van der Kolk,
an international leader in trauma work and two trainings around helping individuals process
their grief. We are always looking to meet the needs of the youth and families we are working
with and not surprisingly, grief work due to the current COVID pandemic is top of that list.

Lastly, we have some great partnerships with other professionals and organizations. These
wonderful organizations have helped by providing trainings for staff, providing prevention
training to our youth at the schools and consulting when we need. Some of this great
organizations are Sarah’s Inn, Willow House, and Selah Freedom. We are thankful to them for
sharing their expertise and helping us inform youth.

YCA Spotlights Black Women in History

Middle school students in Youth.Connections.Academics, YC’s after-school enrichment program, celebrated Black History Month by asking students to identify notable black women in history. The students from Heritage and Freedom middle schools will produce bios of four new dynamic black women each week.

BMO Harris Bank Awards Youth Crossroads $25,000 Grant

Youth Crossroads was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from BMO Harris to help address the youth mental health crisis in our community. “The pandemic has had a profound effect on the mental health of children and teens. This grant is in response to the urgent need to build more capacity to help Youth Crossroads work to address social emotional instability and academic underperformance of youth in our community,” said Alma L. Velasquez, Community Giving Manager at BMO Harris Bank  

Two School-Based Counselors Positions are Open

Youth Crossroads has two open positions for School Based Counseling – one for Morton Freshman Center and one for Morton East. The counselors would provide assessment, case management and short-term individual and family counseling for a caseload of identified mid- to high-risk youth. Positions are open to candidates with a Master’s degree in a Human Services Field (Counseling, Psychology, Social Work) and are bi-lingual in English and Spanish.

YC Staff Provide Grief Debrief for Morton West High School Teachers

Following the tragic murder last month of Charisma Ehresman, a 20-year-old Forest View nursing student and a graduate of Morton West High School in 2020, her former Morton West teachers found they were severely affected by her death and having a hard time coping. YC counselors Morgan Eslinger and Natalia Dorsz stepped in to offer a grief debrief for teachers, and may also start a support group for teachers. “We are so thankful for the partnership with Youth Crossroads,” one teacher commented.

Youth Crossroads 2022 Gala

We are excited to announce Youth Crossroads in Bloom, our annual fundraiser and awards gala, will take place on April 22, 2022, at Crystal Sky Banquets 7941 47th St in McCook.


One Step-Ahead Scholarships

Youth Crossroads One-Step Ahead Scholarship is a college scholarship program that is run by Youth Leadership interns for YLP students. The scholarship program supports our low-income minority students who face financial burdens paying for college. Support One Step Ahead

Students Emerge from Bubble

With the start of the second half of the school year, YC’s school-based counselors are finally seeing students begin to emerge out of their bubbles after a year plus of virtual learning. According to Laura Marsicek, Morton West High School Counseling Intern, “with the added support and space to reflect in sessions, many students found opportunities to begin expanding their support systems again, in and out of school,” Laura said. “I’m seeing more students who began prosocial activities with new friends, initiating conversations, advocating for themselves with teachers and even improving their eye contact while speaking. It is rewarding to watch them initiate the use of coping skills in their everyday lives to overcome the challenges of the new school year.” .