Youth Services Promotes a Healthy Family Environment

Six years ago, Rebecca Adair’s life was falling apart.

Her daughter had been declared unfit to care for her kids, so Adair, a 54-year-old grandmother, assumed custody.

“They fought all the time,” says Adair, who lives in a trailer park in unincorporated Cook County near Glenview. “The kids, (ages) 4 and 10 at the time, didn’t want to be with me—they wanted their mother. They felt I was keeping them away from her. I was. They just didn’t understand why.”

The 4-year-old boy started acting out, hitting, throwing and breaking things. He wasn’t doing well in school and never seemed happy. “It was a terrible time for all of us,” Adair says. “It wasn’t my life plan, and it wasn’t theirs.”

A glimmer of hope

Then, one day, it all changed. She heard about Youth Services of Glenview-Northbrook and made an appointment, her expectations low.

“They were very welcoming,” Adair says. “They stumbled over each other to find the right niche for us, in terms of their services. The intake person really listened to how I felt.”

First stop: crisis management. Then came counseling and socialization classes. The Big Sister program took Adair’s granddaughter on field trips to fun places like The Glen and Kohl Children’s Museum. A food program helped the family keep food in the cabinets, and a holiday gift program ensured that the children would not go without.

“And we never paid a thing,” says Adair, who received scholarship money for the services.

A haven for North Shore youth

The idea for YSGN hatched in 1972, when some bored high school students from Glenview and Northbrook told their parents they wanted a safe place to hang out. “They also wanted a place where they could receive help and support when they needed it,” says Executive Director Amy O’Leary, who adds that parents and community leaders rallied to the cause.

YSGN still draws primarily from Glenview, Northbrook and parts of Northfield, but some of the socialization and support groups welcome children and teens from all over.

Home away from home

Today, Adair says, her grandkids are doing great. They’re getting good grades and are much happier than they used to be.

“YSGN taught us how to love each other and do what we needed to do,” she says. “They’re like my family.  Even if you don’t need them, you know they’re there.”

Youth Services by the numbers

Last year, YSGN provided:

  • More than 3,000 individual and group therapy sessions to kids and families
  • 84 clinical intakes
  • Free or reduced rate counseling to 136 kids
  • Supervised visitation for 6 families
  • Holiday gifts for 500 families

Upcoming events

  • Rummage Sale, August 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and August 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3080 W. Lake Ave., Glenview; Drop off dates: August 8-9, 12-13, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Items accepted: clothing, accessories, furniture, kitchen items, housewares, small appliances, bedding, toys and sporting goods.
  • Stand Up for Youth—A Night of Comedy, featuring comedian Jake Johannsen, September 27, 7 p.m., Sunset Ridge Country Club, Northfield

Make It Better Foundation is a proud Media Sponsor of all YSGN events through July 2014.