Since its inception in 1981, the Youth Encouragement Services (YES) Home, Aurora, has served about 2,000 youth, reports director Cathy Piche and program coordinator Amy Phillips.
It was established “by a concerned group of citizens with the intent to provide a homelike atmosphere for abused and neglected children and to house runaways in need of help,” Piche reveals. Its mission is “to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children who are unable to live at home or have no home to go to.”
Phillips notes, “We can serve youth (ages 8-18) from anywhere in the state of Indiana,” but most come from Dearborn and Ripley counties, including Batesville. On Dec. 16, there were six kids at the home. “Last week we had 10. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we had two emergency placements when families were disrupted.
“We are both an emergency and long-term care facility.” Some children just stay overnight, and others stay for over a year. It depends on their needs. “Some of our youth have great families that just need some time to heal, and some ... have no family, either due to incarceration, death or rights being terminated. Each is different and has his/her own story. We do our best to meet the need” of the individuals and families, the director points out.
Six full-time and six part-time staff members “provide for the daily care ... (of the residents), as well as role modeling and teaching them how to function in a positive way.” They facilitate groups with the students, including life skills such as budgeting and cooking, as well as how to deal with emotions in a positive way. “Our staff are dedicated to helping ... (them) reach their potential and to help them recognize who they are, what they are capable of and to begin the journey toward becoming independent, productive, caring adults.”
Contributions are always welcome, she says. “Monetary donations are helpful. That is a given. We also accept and appreciate gift cards for outings for the (kids) ... such as Greendale Cinema, restaurants, bowling ... those events that most families do with their kids, but are extras for our” residents.
“We also always need the basics, such as personal care items like shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes and toothpaste, body wash, deodorant. With the emergency shelter care, we sometimes have a quick turnaround and those items are quickly depleted. Anything that the average family uses, we use about four times that amount. The youth would enjoy a new Xbox and controllers, as well as games. These are extras that we are not always able to provide, but we do allow the games on weekends.”
Phillips adds, “There are no longer any other shelter care facilities in this part of Indiana. Several group homes have also closed over the past few years. What this means is that in order to keep our youth in this area, the YES Home is vital. Otherwise ... (they) are separated from not only their homes, but their schools and communities as well.
“We transport youth to their home schools to keep some stability for them. This allows them to maintain their academics and friendships as well. Our goal is to help them move forward, whether that is out on their own or back with their families.”
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.
Lending a hand • Kiersten Morris, Holton, hopes to help YES Home residents. For her Girl Scout Gold Award, the Batesville High School senior is collecting personal care and school items through the end of January. "I really think these kids need someone to assure them somebody cares about them." Persons can drop off donations in boxes at The Herald-Tribune and Grinning Goblin. • Morris also has plans for fundraisers. "We're having a movie night Dec. 30 for the Girl Scouts. We're going to watch 'The Polar Express.' Admission is a PG movie," which will be given to kids at the home. "In January, I'm going to ask BHS students to donate items, too .... (and) I plan on doing a 5K when the weather gets better." She encourages people to donate if they can because "it's a really good cause, and it would really help those kids out."