Jasper, Ala. – Now 17 years old, last year Kassidy found herself in trouble after hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting arrested for possession of marijuana, and not doing her best in school. Then the Walker County Juvenile Court connected her to Walker County Alabama’s Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) Inc. where she was matched with an Advocate.
Once Kassidy entered the youth justice system, she was referred to YAP in February 2022 to complete six months with the Walker County program. Christi Day was Kassidy’s YAP Advocate. Day said she was encouraged from watching Kassidy’s growth and is pleased to see her exceed her expectations by working hard to complete the program.
“Not to say there weren’t any hurdles along the way, but Kassidy created a new future for herself,” Day said. “Kassidy is unaware that she and her family set the bar for upcoming program participants. She is an example to Walker County and to the state of Alabama that hard work and dedication pay off. Kassidy will be graduating from high school and I’m anxiously awaiting my invitation.”
YAP is a national nonprofit organization in 33 states and the District of Columbia providing community-based services as alternatives to youth incarceration, congregate residential care, and neighborhood violence. YAP hires neighborhood-based Advocates who are trained to empower program participants to see their strengths while connecting them and their families to wraparound services that include educational, economic, and emotional tools.
“Kassidy was a delight to work with,” said Juvenile Probation Officer Saderia Morman of the Walker County Juvenile Court.
Kassidy plans to enter the workforce after graduation and down the road will enroll in a community college. She credits Day for helping to guide her make better decisions and thinks of Day as a second mom and a family member.
“[Day] overall is an amazing person and Advocate,” Kassidy added. “I think YAP is a really good program for juveniles. It’s good to have someone to talk to and that is basically YAP overall.”
Kassidy continued, “Christi helped me grow individually as a person. She inspired me a lot to get out of bed and to pursue the things that I love to do. She was just awesome. I tried seeing her as much as I could. She would take me to doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments; stuff like that.”
Shelly Hunter, Kassidy’s mother, is a single parent who is thankful for YAP offering extra support with transportation, classes, communication, homework, and doing activities with Kassidy like hiking or going out to eat. Hunter and her husband divorced before Kassidy turned a year-old.
“(Kassidy’s father) has been in prison most of her life and she’s never known him as a father figure. Kassidy has a brother and sister who unfortunately followed the footsteps that their dad did. Kassidy was about to go down that road,” Hunter said. “Sometimes I struggled with providing rides for Kassidy and other things. Christi was just a blessing, really. She stepped up and just got on top of it. She would always touch base with me, her grandmother, the teachers, school, work, her doctor appointments and everything. Kassidy saw that there was something different.”
Hunter is thankful to YAP and Day. She credits the program with helping her build better understanding, communication, and relationship between herself and Kassidy.
“It was amazing,” Hunter said. “I really do think it’s also about the right Advocate pairing up with the right kid. Kassidy got a really good Advocate. Christi is a blessing; that was her calling. They need 100 of her.”