Raised by her grandparents and new to Chicago, a teen named Jessica began to act out. Bouts of gang involvement, domestic violence, and school truancy resulted in court-mandated mental health treatment. Eventually she found her way to Youth Outreach Services (YOS).

YOS helped Jessica to build her skills and engage in positive activities. “YOS was a safe haven for us kids,” Jessica recalls, “we needed somewhere to be ourselves.” At YOS Jessica met Xavier, a counselor who made a lasting impact on her life.

By age 16, Jessica was pregnant with her first child, whom she named Julian Xavier. Faced with homelessness and single parenthood, Jessica remembered Julian’s namesake fondly, and vowed to raise her child the way Xavier once helped her. Fourteen years later, Julian, now a young teenager, became rebellious, his school grades were failing, and he was suspended for a school fight. Jessica brought Julian to YOS, and lo and behold, found Xavier, still a counselor!

The results have been wildly positive. Julian has now been attending YOS for over a year, and he is in all honors classes in high school. Moreover, Jessica continues to advocate for at-risk youth with Youth Outreach Services. “If we hadn’t gone to YOS,” she says, “I think we both would’ve been in jail or dead.”

This inspiring story is only one of many. We have numerous others just like it, where YOS helps generations of families. Find out more and donate at yos.org/donate or text @GROWYOS to 52014.

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