By Carole Kant, BYS Counselor Emeritus

As I look back on the years I have been supporting BYS, nothing has changed…except everything.

The nothing: Adolescents continue to face one of the most challenging periods of their lives (surpassed only by the challenge of being the parent of a teenager). Adjusting to the assault of growth hormones while struggling with issues regarding self-esteem and acceptance, not to mention navigating the slippery slope between independence and compliance with adult authority, requires maturity and wisdom. Let’s face it: adolescents are still free-falling.

 Now for the everything has changed: Teens, in particular, must battle the ill-defined parameters of the e-world. They face the increasing availability and escalating abuse of substances. They also confront ambivalence: adults are striving to impose discipline and structure, while at the same time, they are trying to understand and tolerate the evolving, challenging behavior of today’s adolescents.

Currently in its 60th year of service, BYS also falls into the nothing but everything has changed category: Our facility is spacious, inviting, and accessible. Our leadership has evolved from exceptional to even more exceptional and is growing to meet the needs of the community. We have an Executive Director who is both a clinician and an administrator, as well as a personnel director and public relations overseer. Our staff now includes more professional mental health counselors, as well as development, program, and communications managers. Our free youth services now include one-on-one and group counseling, as well as peer academic tutoring, tech tutoring for senior citizens, and, of course, the always-popular jobs board. We also have an active adolescent service club that works to foster connections and community engagement.

 In short, we have all been watching BYS grow from a “grab anything you can get” – a lamp…a chair…free candy…to a first-class organization poised as a role model for other aspiring adolescent support organizations. How fortunate we are to have this gem on Bainbridge Island.