I’ve read that “parenting teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree”. If you have teens I can feel you nodding your head in agreeance. Well, I would somewhat agree, but also say that it’s one of the most rewarding acts in the world!

Working with teenagers leaves you feeling empowered, successful, and proud! Teens are some of the most insightful, honest, and hopeful individuals you will ever interact with.

Imagine being 18 years old and going from living on the streets to finding a group of supportive adults who want to help you reach your goal

On the flip side working with teens also leaves you feeling helpless, defeated, and disheartened at times. Every staff member at Palmetto Place experiences that roller coaster of emotions regularly.

Many of our teens come to us with a load of trauma in their past and they’re only looking to survive for the next day. This is normal and okay. But we want them to see there is more to life than just the day-to-day survival tactics. It is our mission and purpose to make sure we wrap our arms around each resident who walks through our doors and provide them with the care and support they need to be able to look past the day-to-day struggle and envision their potential, future, and ability to heal!

I must admit, this is difficult, yet so humbling and rewarding at the same time. I always say that our staff members do not get up and come to work at Palmetto Place just for a paycheck nor do they ever make their job about themselves. They work at Palmetto Place because it is their purpose and mission to serve others and they are selfless, compassionate, team members who are constantly going above and beyond the call of duty.

March is National Social Worker month and each direct care staff, social worker, and case manager at Palmetto Place deserve a standing ovation for the incredible job they do. While some days seem emotional and endless, there are many days where we have the privilege to witness small and huge successes with our residents!

Last month, one of our residents moved into her very own studio apartment. Imagine being 18 years old and going from living on the streets (literally) to finding a group of supportive adults who want to help you reach your goal, to moving into your own place with your own job less than 6 months later. The sense of pride we feel for her is overwhelming. Two other teens passed their driver’s permit test last month and another found his dream job in graphic design! We praise and provide parades of celebration for the smallest victories – an A on a geometry test or being able to recognize and appropriately express an emotion – to large victories, obtaining a driver’s license or securing a job after an on-the-spot interview.

My “parade of celebration” this month is dedicated to those who work in the Social Work field (and parent teens!) and make a difference! At Palmetto Place, we are thankful for those who serve others so selflessly in our community.

- Written by Jill Lawson, Executive Director