Helping Children and Families Live Successfully
Youth Villages of middle Tennessee offers a full range of programs to serve emotionally and behaviorally troubled young people throughout middle Tennessee. This year, they will help more than 5,500 children, young people and their families, through offices in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Dickson, Linden and Nashville.
Youth Villages is a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health bringing help and hope to more than 25,000 children, families and young people across the United States this year. The organization offers a continuum of evidence-informed programs, including their two national models: YVIntercept, which offers intensive in-home services, and YVLifeSet, which gives former foster youth a good start on a successful adulthood. Among assisting with foster care and adoption, they also provide intensive in-home treatment and residential treatment for children. Through their YVLifeSet ™ program, they help young adults, who have aged out of foster care, transition into adulthood.
“When you work at Youth Villages, you see how love and support can transform a person,” says executive director of Youth Villages Tennessee, Charmaine Kromer. “Many of our youth have endured trauma at such young ages, and that can cause behavioral and emotional issues they need help understanding. When Youth Villages steps into their lives, our staff and volunteers give these children a second chance. We aim to help them recover what they can of their childhood, and give them the tools they need to grow into successful adults.”
Last year, Youth Villages found forever homes for ninety-six children across the state. And this year, they hope to see even more adoptions finalized. During November, Youth Villages shines a light on how important a forever home is to the youth in their organization. Since they are the national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health, their goal is to reunify youth with their families if at all possible. But when that is no longer an option, they try to find an adoptive family, because they are aware how a supportive family can change the lives of children. Their troubled childhoods can be transformed with the steadfast love of a family.
A Family Story
The Jennings family adopted two siblings from Youth Villages in the spring and are experiencing their first year together as a family of five. Candace and Ryan, along with their five-year-old Hayden, recently welcomed in Wes, five, and Keely, four. As the children grow older, Candace and Ryan plan to make a scrapbook of Wes and Keely’s birth family to help them understand their history. For now, when they ask where they came from, their response is just as truthful as any birth certificate.
“Hayden talks about how he was in my belly. Wes and Keely then ask whose belly they were in,” Candace explains. “I tell them they grew in Mommy and Daddy’s hearts. They love getting told that. Their faces light up with joy. When they are old enough to understand everything, we will tell them everything, but for now, that works.”
How to Help
Fostering or adopting are not always options for people who are looking to give back to Youth Villages. However, there are still plenty of ways to get involved with their mission and help the youth and families they serve. Through their mentoring program, adults can be a steady and positive influence on youth who stay on their residential campuses. In some cases, mentors can be the first positive role models our kids have.
Additionally, those interested can help out Youth Villages this holiday season by becoming a Holiday Hero. Through this annual program, they ensure all youth in their programs have presents to open during the holidays. In the Nashville area, they will fulfill the holiday wish lists of more than 2,000 children. This is only possible through the help of individual and corporate volunteers who sponsor and shop for the items on a child’s wish list.
For more information about Youth Villages, please visit youthvillages.org. To become involved with Holiday Heroes, visit, youthvillages.org/get-involved/holiday-heroes.
To hear more about Youth Villages and November’s Adoption Awareness Month, stop by these two Chick-fil-A family nights.
November 14th from 5pm to 8pm at the Chick-fil-A on Columbia Avenue in Franklin
November 21st from 5pm to 8pm at the Chick-fil-A on Mallory Lane in Cool Springs