Submitted by: Courtney Reimann with Audrey Waterman, and Patti Brown
Kevin has come a long way in the past ten years, now living safely at home with Kate, his cat. He thanks his Susquehanna County, PA Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Behavioral Health and Adult Disability Direct Support Services team for empowering him with tools to live independently in the face of complex challenges.
YAP is a national nonprofit in 32 states and the District of Columbia that partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, intellectual disabilities and other systems to provide community-based alternatives to congregate placements.
“When I first started living on my own, I struggled. Through the support of my YAP staff, I was able to find other ways to cope with my anxiety and depression rather than using drugs and alcohol in excess.”
Receiving YAP Behavioral Health services in his youth, Kevin is now a young adult and has moved to the nonprofit’s Adult Disability Behavioral and Direct Support Services program, where he focuses on making safe, healthier choices and learning how to live independently. Kevin has a constellation of supportive staff and family members who prompt him to take care of himself and his apartment, provide support to get to medical appointments, and remind him of his strengths.
He said during the last year, things seemed dire for him as he crashed his car, struggled with depression, and gave in to destructive thought patterns. YAP staff developed positive rapport with him, holding frequent meetings to find new ways and innovative programs or therapies to address his needs.
“The willingness of the YAP staff to be there whenever I needed them greatly increased my ability to deal with my anxiety. I am greatly appreciative of them to stand with me during these trials and tribulations.”
YAP’s service model is based helping program participants see their strengths and connecting them with tools to help them set and achieve positive goals.
As described by YAP staff person Patti Brown, “I always verbally praise him for his efforts with cooking, shopping, cleaning, taking his medications, making and keeping appointments and he always says thank you.”
A major turning point came when Kevin brought home a brand new kitten. YAP staff saw that with the new pet, Kevin was able to have more responsibility and day-to-day structure. He also had companionship, something missing as he established a successful independent life in his own apartment.
Audrey Waterman, Kevin’s Behavioral Support Specialist, added that she has “built a strong level of trust by showing unconditional positive regard and honesty with him, which has allowed him to be honest and ask for help.”