Once a year the Youth Homes staff, Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and community members with special influence gather for their Annual Meeting to reflect on the past year’s success and to recognize several individuals’ contributions and work that serves the organization. The 76th Youth Homes Annual Meeting celebrated the selfless and humanitarian natures of the staff and board members who work hard to make the lives of the at-risk population better, healthier and successful in every way possible.
As of April 2019, Youth Homes serves 226 at-risk kids and their families. Specifically, Youth Homes provides services for:
- 50 boys who live on the residential campus
- 17 boys and girls in cluster sites
- 11 kids in the independent living program
- 68 kids and their families in community-based therapy
- 36 kids and their families in skill development (BHIS) services
- 75 kids for school-based therapy in Johnston and Des Moines
- 24 kids in the short-term student assistance services in Johnston
Since last year’s Annual Meeting, the Youth Homes staff worked with a total of 490 at-risk kids and their families. The number of at-risk people who need help are staggering, and people are often surprised by the hundreds of kids and their families who need help so they can have the opportunity to become independent and live happy, healthy and successful lives.
Because of the number of people who need Youth Homes’ services, the staff at Youth Homes is key to helping provide at-risk kids and families the resources and services they need for a better quality of life. During the Annual Meeting, several staff members were recognized for their outstanding work and dedication to our mission.
Ter’ran Benton, Youth Care Worker, three years of service
Peyton Carolus, Community Counselor, three years of service
Hunter Donovan, Caseworker, three years of service
Kami Gaddis, Therapist, three years of service
Chris Honadel, Cook, three years of service
Hayley Ladwig, School-Based Therapist, three years of service
Nickie Meyerring, Quality Manager, three years of service
Jozie Morgan, Community Counselor, three years of service
Aaron Staver, Youth Care Worker, five years of service
Trisha Tonelli, School-Based Therapist, five years of service
Page Dugan, 1st Shift Youth Care Worker, 10 years of service
Christy Keyes, 1st Shift Youth Care Worker, 10 years of service
Katie Kruse, Caseworker, 10 years of service
Jenetta Hines, Program Manager, 15 years of service
Eric Goodale, Caseworker, 20 years of service
Brad Mellencamp, Chief Financial Officer, 20 years of service
Arron Weaver, 1st Shift Youth Care Worker, 20 years of service
Todd Flannery, Cluster Youth Care Worker, 30 years of service
BILL & ANN TREBILCOCK EXCEPTIONAL STAFF AWARD
The Youth Homes Bill & Ann Trebilcock Exceptional Staff Award was created in 2012 to recognize outstanding service, dedication and commitment to Youth Homes kids and families. The is presented to a staff member who exemplifies the core qualities of Youth Homes: compassion, relationships and tenacity.
Christy Keyes, Youth Care Worker
For 15 years, Christy built relationships through nurturing and caring for the youth. She shows tenacity with the kids, her work and with the staff, and she portrays compassion for the youth, regardless of the challenges Christy’s job comes with.
FRIEND OF YOUTH AWARD
The Friend of Youth Award recognizes individuals, families and organizations that exemplify the mission and spirit of Youth Homes. This is the highest level of recognition that Youth Homes can bestow on any person or organization.
This year’s Friend of Youth Award was given to Johnston Women’s Social Connection.
Youth Homes continues to remember the previous years' recipients of the Friend of Youth Award in which several organizations, individuals and families were recognized for their generous contributions to Youth Homes. The previous Friend of Youth Award recipients are listed below.
Allied Insurance, Ankeny Presbyterian Church, Butternut Christmas Club, BWA Foundation, Capitol City Baptist Church, Casey’s General Stores, City of Johnston, Commercial Federal Bank, Dee Zee Manufacturing, Des Moines Brokerage, Downtown Kiwanis, Ellingson Apartments, Federal Home Loan Bank, Flynn Wright, Greater DM Community Fund, Heartland AEA, Hockenberg Newburgh, Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc., John Deere Des Moines Works, Johnston Community Schools, Johnston Jaycees, Johnston Police Department, MECCA, Merchants Bonding Company, Nationwide, Northwest Optimist Club, Paragon IT Solutions, Pioneer Hi Bred, Polk County Board of Supervisors, Plymouth Congregational Church, Prairie Meadows, Ross Campus Teachers, Sammons Financial Group, Society for Barbershop Singing, St. Stephens Church, Variety-The Children’s Charity, Wells Fargo, Wolin & Associates and Youth Homes Strategic Planning Committee.
Individuals and families
Ball Family, Bert Aunan, Betty Atwood, Chuck Betts, Lois Bright, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Carpenter, Sam Carrell, Dr. C.A. Clay, Betty Cope, John Cruikshank, Mabel Cumming, Ted Cutler, W.T. Dahl, Dr. William Daly, Randy Duncan, Jr., Dr. Douglas Ellingson, Roger Ferguson, Ettore Ferin, Helen Ferris, Bill Friedman, Jr., Louis Friestad, Jr., Glen Gamble, John & Zelda Grubb, Clay Guthmiller, Thomas M. Hamilton, Terry Handley, Marty Harswick, Dr. Michael Harvey, Senator Jack Hatch, Rep. David Heaton, Ric Hirst, Will Hoekman, Will Hoekman, Jr., Merlie Howell, Dick Jacobson, Stan Johnson, Senator Mary Kramer, Dr. Jeff Kerber, Harrison Kruse, Ted Lang, Ted Lovejoy, Terry Lydon, Lyle Lynn, Vickie McCool, Kathleen McDonnell, Norm McElwain, Dennis Meyer, Warren Nixon, Ochylski Family Foundation, O’Donnell Family, Robert Otto, Dr. & Mrs. John Pargulski, David Peterson, Rep. Scott Raecker, Hobart & Alta Ross, Betty Ruan, Sargent Family, Dick Sargent, Dale Schmitz, Ron Stehl, Dr. K. Richard Sundblad, Bill & Ann Trebilcock, Kirk Van Kirk, Jim Wacker, Linda Waugh, Eugene Weber, Pat Williams and Russell Young.
UBS HOBART & ALTA ROSS OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This award recognizes young men and women who made exceptional positive changes in their lives. The 2019 UBS Hobart & Alta Ross Outstanding Achievement Award was given to former Youth Homes resident Damonte’ Stogner.
Damonte faced a serious charge when he was only 14 years old. Damonte was then admitted to Youth Homes in February 2004. On Damonte’s last day at Youth Homes, he expressed his gratitude to the staff with this letter.
“It is amazing how you all could just be so willing to help someone who is so rough around the edges. It’s like a jawbreaker that won’t break and finally you bit it the right way and in the right spot, and you get it cracked and that’s what you all did to me. All of you stood by me through some rough times and I highly appreciate it…So thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
After several challenges and hurdles, Damonte’ went from an at-risk youth to a successful humanitarian working to better his community. Today, Damonte’ works for United Way and is starting a program to help inmates find employment after their release.
Success stories like Damonte’s story are why Youth Homes exists today — to rescue at-risk youth and families and help them find a path to independence and success.
According to Youth Homes Associate Executive Director Chris Koepplin, “everyone deserves to be part of a family. We need someone to call when we get a flat tire, someone to send us a card on our birthday and a group of people who invite us to Thanksgiving dinner. We all deserve and need people who help us when the sh*t hits the fan. More importantly, we all need people who provide us with unconditional regard.”
Although this year was a huge success for Youth Homes, more at-risk families need help every year, which is why we need more resources to help people in need. The next time you want to help at-risk families by giving them the resources needed to reach their potential, contact us and find out how you can change lives for the better.