In honor of our 35th Anniversary, Dr. Leader shares her memories of the early days of Teen Line in a series we like to call…
Although I have already touched on the evolving importance of Outreach in the development of our ability to connect with youth I want to expand more on this aspect of our program. Of course, the mainstay has always been outreach presentations to schools and youth groups so that teens would know about Teen Line as a resource and also as an opportunity to volunteer. Equally important, however, has been the development of relationships with other organizations involved with youth.
I think my background as a social worker was crucial to my focus on community connecting. Although my main focus in graduate school was on the clinical I was always inspired by community organization aspects of social work education. I think some of this was a result of my experience as a caseworker in London, England where I had received a Diploma in Social Work from London University. My fieldwork experiences there included time spent with county welfare officers and a casework organization called the Invalid Children’s Aid Association where on completion of my Diploma I became employed.
My work in London involved seeing families in their own homes and facilitating and arranging with other agencies to get the help that was needed for the “handicapped” child in those families. This meant becoming familiar with many other voluntary agencies as well as hospitals and other resources. I really learned what the word “networking” means from this experience. And I certainly needed that skill when I became Executive Director at Teen Line.
In a previous chapter I wrote about our work in community policing which continues to this day. I want, however, to mention our coordination with other agencies. We have worked collaboratively with many organizations to our mutual benefit. Some of these focused on particular problem or interest areas such as the Violence Prevention Coalition or the LGBT Center. Some of our most rewarding contacts have arisen from these organizations as well as from programs offered by Children’s Hospital, Phoenix House and the Rape Treatment Center and of course Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center.
One of the avenues for developing these important relationships came about as part of our training program. In order to have our teen volunteers become better acquainted with the various issues that troubled teens would call about we would invite speakers to our Teen Workshops. These were a valuable component to the training that our teen volunteers were mandated to attend. Usually offered monthly we invited speakers from a wide range of agencies to speak about their programs. These ranged from Runaway shelters to Teen Parenting programs, Eating Disorders programs and Substance Abuse agencies and a very important Cultural Sensitivity Workshop.
This eventually led us in the 90s to get funding to publish the first edition of our Youth Yellow Pages. Selecting topics and resources to include was a huge task but rewarding. We then were able to offer this publication through our website as well as distribution at outreaches. This past year not only did we publish an updated eighth edition but it is now available as an app. I truly believe this has been an important contribution to our community connecting abilities that includes adolescent serving agencies as well as youth themselves.
In my next chapter I plan to share some of these experiences in more detail.
Read the next chapter: Pt 11 – Community Connections Continued
Miss an earlier Foundations Blog? Catch up here: