Good Folks of York County receives numerous requests for funding from worthy organizations in the community. Since 1991, this group of citizens and businesses reviews the applications and narrows them down to the cause that would most likely fulfill a broad need and enhance quality of life.
This year, the funds that will be raised at the annual luncheon scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 2, will be for the planned Youth and Adolescent Center by Keystone Substance Abuse Services. This one really resonates with the Good Folks’ Board of Directors because the new center addresses a widespread issue that threatens to destroy the very fabric of young lives, their families and our whole community.
It is likely that each person reading this has been directly or indirectly affected by someone close to them who has had or currently has an addiction problem. Just in the last four years, Keystone has experienced a 204 percent increase in the number of those impacted through its prevention, community outreach and treatment services for youth and young adults.
The stories of devastation, sorrow and tragedy are many; often, they are so unnecessary and solvable if and when Keystone can connect and help that individual.
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“It can be life-changing for an individual and family dealing with drugs or alcohol to receive professional help, and it’s especially heart wrenching when it involves an adolescent,” said Janet Martini, executive director for Keystone in Rock Hill. “A challenge that we are facing is that so many of our clients are youngsters. We found that we can achieve better results when they are separated from an adult population and be among their peers.”
What Janet and some of her board members described just made sense to us. Solve and prevent substance abuse at an early age, and you made an investment in the future that communities such as ours cannot afford to ignore.
Janet told us a story about a local youth named “Joseph” who arrived at Keystone the way so many of our children do – after getting in trouble. Fortunately, his parents sought help before he ended up with legal problems, in the emergency room or, worse, in the morgue. Joseph entered Keystone’s program angry, defiant and determined not to participate. He was especially upset with his parents for pushing him to attend the Youth Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program.
However, the boy just described is not the young man of today. At the end of Joseph’s treatment, he wrote a letter to his counselors and his parents thanking them for his new life and apologizing for all he put everyone through.
Joseph had gone from not owning his substance abuse problems, not fully understanding the impact that it had on his family and failing school – to a young man who now embraces responsibility and sober living. He is now making plans for college and his future.
It is critical to reach our children early because the danger of lifelong consequences increases for young adults: national data indicate that the rate of substance use disorders for young adults 18-25 is almost double (18.9 percent) that in the general population (10 percent). Keystone is ready to take its concept of a new Youth and Adolescent Center devoted to young people 12-18 and to make it a reality.
Teens will have a safe place to be themselves and get the tools they need to finish high school. The plan is to equip the new center with appliances for a kitchen, furniture and technology for offices and therapy rooms. There will be a media center and computer lab. They also need recreational equipment and supplies for a “social hub” where current and former clients can participate in therapeutic and social activities that support sober living.
Sober and living are two keywords. A community cannot be full of life if our youth are not equipped with the tools and support needed to be successful, independent and sober citizens. If you agree, Good Folks of York County could use your donations.
Our luncheon is set for 11:45 a.m. at the DiGiorgio Center at Winthrop University on Dec. 2. Visit www.goodfolksofyorkcounty.com for more information about how you can be one of the “Good Folks of York County,” too.