by Courtney Oliver, Executive Director

As the final days of school approach, it’s important to reflect on the emotional rollercoaster local youth have experienced over the last year. Listening to the stories from youth themselves and the BYS staff, I am struck by the strength and resiliency of young people and the courage many teens have exhibited in continuing to show up every day. 

Over the past month, we have seen more young people in person in our office and it has become more clear to us how the pandemic has shaped them and how it will be a reflection point for many for the rest of their lives. What we are hearing is that many young people have lost some self-confidence during the time of isolation and now have a more acute need for validation. Generally, they are doubting themselves more than before the pandemic and are unsure, perhaps even anxious, about what is now socially acceptable and how their peers will respond to them. Adolescence has always been tough but this pandemic and the resulting isolation have added a whole new dimension to these pivotal years. 

I am proud that Bainbridge Youth Services has supported our community’s youths’ emotional journeys during this chaotic and difficult year and helped them develop their personal pathways to hope. The BYS staff really stepped up to provide additional support and services this year, often on top of their usual workload and whatever they, too, were experiencing personally due to the pandemic. And, thankfully, the community showed up and provided the financial support BYS needed in order to continue to support youth. We, at BYS, felt valued and supported as we did our best to support the community.

I am proud not only of the youth but also the BYS staff and the greater community for putting hope into action throughout this challenging time. It wasn’t easy for anyone! I am grateful that we are part of such a generous, caring, and supportive community. Thank you.