Cover Story - November 24, 2010

Holiday Fund: How YFES saved Emma

Submitted by Sharon Navarro, grants and development manager for Youth and Family Enrichment Services.

"You have saved our daughter Emma* from a path of destruction and given her hope for a healthy future. Thank you so much."

These words were written by a mom whose high-school-age daughter participated in Youth and Family Enrichment Services' adolescent substance-abuse treatment program.

Emma's struggles became apparent to her parents the first time she attempted suicide in July 2008, after she experienced a traumatic rape. Emma spent that summer at an intensive outpatient program of a local hospital ... and in September, attempted suicide for the second time.

"For the next nine months, we sought help from a therapist, and Emma was also seeing a school psychologist," recalls Emma's mom. "She was no longer suicidal but would self-medicate using various drugs and alcohol, was very depressed, and would cut school regularly."

However, in the fall of 2009, Emma began stealing from her mother to support her cocaine habit. It was then that her mom called Juvenile Hall, and asked if she and Emma could have a "tour."

"During our visit, the probation officer recommended Insights (the Youth and Family Enrichment Services' drug education program), and I cannot say enough about how it helped us," he mother said. "The drug education was very informative to Emma, her dad and me. One week a guest speaker told us how she lost her 14-year-old sister to Ecstasy and that had a profound effect on Emma. We were both crying. I do not think she will ever touch Ecstasy again."

Thankfully, the Insights program was there to help Emma overcome her challenges and change her life.

"Emma's dad and I have been down every road trying to get Emma the help she needs," he mother added. "We are not a wealthy family, and could no longer throw money at therapists who may or may not be able to help.

"We were so desperate, and when we turned to the juvenile court system, we had no idea that they would refer us to Insights, the only place that has been able to help our daughter. I am so impressed with your program: the people you help really feel cared for."

In addition to the Insights program, YFES offers 22 programs that serve more than 34,000 individuals annually throughout San Mateo County, helping with prevention, early intervention, education, home visiting for at-risk families with young children, crisis intervention, suicide prevention, youth development, residential services, mental health and substance-abuse counseling.

No one is turned away for lack of funds. All of our programs are free or offered on a sliding-scale basis.

As we count down to the holiday season, we'd like to say how much we appreciate everything our donors and volunteers do for us all year. Especially in a challenging financial climate, donations to the Holiday Fund help us maintain services for young people like Emma and for some of the most vulnerable children, youth and families in our community at a time of increased need.

Thank you for donating to the Holiday Fund. Our wish is a happy and healthy season for all kids and adults everywhere.

Donations to the Holiday Fund benefit Youth and Family Enrichment Services.

> Visit for more information. The address is 610 Elm St., Suite 212, San Carlos CA 940790.

(* The name was changed to protect client confidentiality.)


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