Each year Second Story sends a holiday letter from our Board President to our community to review the past year and let you know how you can support us over the holiday season. If you would like to receive this letter next year, please contact us and we will add you to our mailing list. Happy holidays!
Thank you for taking time this holiday season to join me and my family in celebrating Second Story’s 50th Anniversary. As President of Second Story’s Board of Directors, it is an honor to support a trusted organization that has helped so many local young people write their second stories.
My wife, our three daughters, and I often talk about the challenges all young people face today. Inevitably, our focus turns to the youth at Second Story and we find ourselves asking how we can do more to ensure Second Story stays rooted in our community so all young people can continue to find safe places to stay.
It all started in 1972, when community members noticed more teens running away from home, seeking help at local churches. Second Story stepped in, operating one program out of a trailer. Fifty years later, Second Story continues to offer safe havens and opportunities to local youth and families experiencing crisis so all can grow and thrive. We estimate Second Story has helped more than 50,000 youth in crisis through multiple programs over the past 50 years.
Earlier this year, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution honoring Second Story’s 50th Anniversary, stating, “Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of all Fairfax County residents, does hereby recognize and thank Second Story for its exceptional service to our county.”
“The need for services to help our young people has never been more important than now.” “Your work with young mothers is incredible.” “What you are doing is so critical.” “Second Story has risen to the occasion and become such a stalwart part of our community.” These are just some of the comments offered by County Supervisors.
Year after year, 100% of eligible seniors in Second Story’s programs graduate high school, compared to the national graduation rate for youth experiencing homelessness, measuring around 67%, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
These achievements are remarkable considering the challenges of the past few years. We’ve all been touched by them, particularly our young people. When attempting to make an impact, it’s difficult to know where to start. For me, it helps to channel action through a trusted organization, like Second Story, who’s worked on the ground for more than a half-century, face-to-face with youth and the issues they confront—from mental health, to food insecurity, homelessness, violence, and human trafficking.
Second Story assists our local youth and their families by offering both short- and long-term support across four main program areas.
Second Story for Teens in Crisis provides safe havens, around-the-clock support, individual therapy, and family counseling for youth ages 13 to 17, like “Alex.” At 17, Alex entered Second Story for Teens in Crisis after living on the streets while fleeing gang violence. Staff used a crisis-intervention approach to help Alex manage anger and express his feelings. They connected him with medical treatment for previous injuries. His mind and body received a much-needed rest from the stress of trying to survive and began to heal. He re-enrolled in school and continued toward self-sufficiency.
Second Story for Young Mothers provides housing and support for young women experiencing homelessness, like Meaghan. Meaghan was 19 when she found out she was pregnant. She lacked support and ended up in a homeless shelter. She applied to Second Story for Young Mothers. During that time, Meaghan took parenting classes, learned budgeting skills, received housing assistance, and continued her education. Now, Meaghan has two children, works as a certified medical assistant, and serves as a Second Story Youth Board Member. Meaghan stays in touch with her case manager, who she refers to as an “angel,” and recently moved into her own apartment.
Second Story in the Community offers after-school support to children and teens like “Yvonne,” and drop-in services, food, and other resources for the community. Yvonne’s family lost their home and felt disconnected. Through Second Story’s Safe Youth Project, Yvonne found homework help, participated in field trips and activities, and received healthy living guidance. Through the Family Resource Center, her family received food, toiletries, and cleaning products. Staff connected her parents with local resources, like computer training, parenting classes, and medical and legal clinics. Yvonne and her family adjusted to their new community and regained financial stability.
Second Story for Homeless Youth provides housing and support for youth experiencing homelessness, like “Elmer.” Elmer moved to Northern Virginia to live with family. When his Aunt passed away, her husband asked Elmer to move out. After couch surfing, Elmer applied to Second Story for Homeless Youth. While in the program, he worked and attended school. Second Story provided rent assistance, food, toiletries, a bed, sheets, and towels. He said the support made it possible to focus on school and work. He met regularly with his case manager to work on self-sufficiency goals, life skills training, and financial management. After graduating, Elmer hopes to study Information Technology in college.
I invite you to make a donation to Second Story to help even more youth turn the pages on their pasts and write second stories filled with goals and achievements. Second Story has a new strategic plan in place to stay ahead of emerging challenges facing local youth. One goal includes providing even more support to those who’ve experienced homelessness so they can not only find jobs, but also build careers and choose to stay in Fairfax County. Recent economic challenges and shifting government funding priorities have hit Second Story’s programs hard, creating an urgency to raise more funds so programs will remain open and available to all youth and families who need support in the year ahead.
To give, visit our website or mail your donation. To make a long-term impact, consider joining our Beacon of Hope Society by pledging $1,000 or more for at least five years. If you recently donated, thank you. We hope you see your impact and will consider sharing this letter with others.
Together, let’s make it possible for Second Story to provide support for another 50 years and beyond. Will you join us today, in whatever capacity you are able, and make an impact?
Second Story Board President
P.S. You can hear more of Meaghan’s story, as well as other stories from Second Story’s young people, by viewing this year’s Beacon of Hope Virtual Fundraiser.