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Newsletter – March 2021

News & Views

Some Light Near The End Of The YC Tunnel – We’re Making Progress

After nearly one year, Youth Crossroads is pleased to announce that services available inside our facility will be expanding beginning in April. Due to loosening of CDC and local Covid-19 restrictions, Youth Leadership and after-school program activities, in-office counseling and parent workshops will be able to take place more in-person (while still maintaining social distancing, face-masks, and other safety protocols). We all look forward to a time soon when most restrictions will be minimized and YC can reach our full in-house program capacity!

Counseling & Support Services

Taking Care Of You & Those You Love

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

Handle With Care News

We are excited to announce that this month we are re-launching the Handle with Care Program with the Cicero and Maywood Police Departments and corresponding school districts. The Handle with Care Program is designed as a support system for youth who have been exposed to trauma. Our partner law enforcement agencies and schools are excited to have this program back as an added support system for youth and families.

Here’s How It Works

Jaclyn Wallen, Assoc Dir, Counseling Services

Youth Crossroads recently provided social emotional learning (SEL) presentations to freshman students at Morton West High School. As an intern, I found this experience to be especially gratifying as I was able to enhance my counseling skills and more importantly, provide psycho-education to students who might be struggling during this difficult time.

We discussed how to access counseling services, the importance of support systems, and how to build trust with others. The biggest take away from this experience was the impact it had on the youth we interacted with. In a survey provided to students afterwards, we learned that nearly 70% of them now have a more positive view of counseling services. We also had over a dozen students reach out for additional support after the presentations.

Morgan Eslinger, Counseling Intern

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 – Keeping Ourselves Healthy Too

Last fall, Youth Crossroads’ launched its Wellness Committee because the world was, well, intense. We figured we needed some outlets to keep ourselves healthy so we could continue to help others. Turns out we were right. This past month, the team learned a lot about sleep – how important it is to one’s mental, emotional and physical health, weight control, skin care, etc. They shared tips and tricks for preparing for sleep, falling asleep, and staying asleep. it’s not easy to make changes, but over time we’re starting to feel better. Who knew?

Black Lives Matter

With so much to learn and be mindful of these days, sometimes it’s hard to sort it all out. Here are some articles we think are worth reading:

YC Racial Equity Group

We recently started a Racial Equity Group to investigate and evaluate practices and policies at the agency to identify areas that need improvement. The group is comprised of several staff members and interns working toward addressing any needs within the organization and to creating effective strategies, such as examining staff perspective on cultural diversity and racial equity. From there, we hope to continue connecting with staff to ensure a welcoming environment for all.

Cristian Garcia, YCA Development Specialist

Food for thought… Does Workplace Diversity Training Actually Work?

Youth Development Program

Youth Health Ambassadors

Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve been gathering information about how individuals in the Cicero and Berwyn areas are registering for the COVID vaccine, along with finding any gaps in the process. Our new Youth Health Ambassadors Program is designed to reduce the “tech divide” – to help people with language issues sign up for vaccine appointments and figure out transportation access needed to show up for their appointments.

The program will run for 4 months (April through July). Selected high school students will receive a stipend for their work after the completion of the program. If you know any interested students, please forward the attached flyer to them to set up an interview.

Kimberly Fraga, School-Based Counseling Intern

Save The Date

Our latest youth mural, sponsored by the Berwyn Development Corporation, is finished and has been installed in the “youth sanctuary“ patio area of our building.

You’re invited to the official Ribbon Cutting on Thursday, April 15, at 5:00 PM, at YC. We hope to see you there!

The Berwyn Development Corp. is highlighting some of our work and youth art projects.

Check It Out

Joel Wallen, Director, Youth Development Programs

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is now hiring for Youth Outdoor Ambassadors. Help us get the word out by sharing the attached flyer with any teens who may be interested.

Forest Preserves – Youth Outdoor Ambassador Job Posting

Cicero Community Collaborative (CCC)

The UIC Health Science Enrichment Program Program is a great opportunity for incoming UIC first-year students who are interested in medicine or health sciences. Check out more information in the link above.

Sports Scholarship

Here is a resource on scholarships for youth in sports suffering from asthma.

Scholarship Info & Application Here

The Spring 2021 Students Ideas Competition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial is now accepting submissions. This year’s competition invites young people to respond to the question: How can existing urban spaces be reimagined to better reflect the needs and interests of local residents?

Chicagoland students in grades 7 – 12 are eligible to participate. Submissions can explore ideas about architecture and the built environment from a wide range of disciplines including design, the humanities, visual and performing arts, and STEM. Winning students or student teams will receive cash and technology prizes. Free to enter.

The competition deadline is May 7. For more details, resources, and to submit, visit:

Medicaid Workshop For Undocumented Seniors

Here is a YouTube recording of the Medicaid Workshop for Undocumented Seniors over 65 in Illinois hosted by Family Focus in collaboration with Solutions for Care.

FEMA Offers Covid-19 Funeral Assistance

El Programa de Reembolso de Funerales de la Administración Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA, por sus siglas en inglés) se lanzará en abril de 2021 (detalles en el enlace a continuación). FEMA reembolsará hasta $ 7,000.00 para funerales, como resultado de las muertes por COVID-19 al 20 de enero de 2020.
Los miembros de la familia que pagaron por un funeral y tienen documentación pueden solicitar la Asistencia Funeraria COVID-19.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Funeral Reimbursement Program will launch in April 2021 (details in link below). FEMA is reimbursing up to $7,000.00 for funerals, as a result of deaths from COVID-19 as of January 20, 2020. Family member(s) who paid for a funeral and have documentation may apply for the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

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

For the past five years, Youth Crossroads has built a solid partnership with Hope Houses Workshop ( located in Berwyn. Founder Steve Lefko is a huge fan of our work and mission. He’s constantly thinking of creative ways to collaborate together. If you’ve been to our office, chances are you’ve seen the giant wooden signs in our large youth space with the GUIDE, SUPPORT, INSPIRE tagline on them. That’s Steve’s work and that’s how he likes to do things. Big and bold and engaging young people.

A few months ago, Steve and Joel (YC Youth Development Programs Director) dreamed up a new project. Over the past six weeks, our high school students have volunteered at the Workshop building wooden toys for local in-home day cares. Students have contributed to the design, learned about woodworking, and built over 100 toys. Over the next few weeks, we’re partnering with Cicero’s All Our Kids Network to get these toys into kids’ hands. Thanks for your support and commitment to helping local kids, Steve!

We Want To Hear From You

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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!