At Palmetto Place we know that kids who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected and kids who are experiencing homelessness are often dealing with some level of trauma. When kids aren’t able to work through the trauma they’ve experienced they are more likely to lack emotional stability, can have a hard time trusting the world and those around them, and can have negative health outcomes as an adult.

At Palmetto Place we help kids overcome the trauma they’ve experienced by utilizing the services provided by partner agencies such as SCYAP, LARADAC, MIRCI, and many others. In addition to individual services offered by our partner agencies, we also have an in-house counselor, Ms. Joy.

For a little more than 6 months Ms. Joy has been working with the teens at Palmetto Place. She grew up in Central New York before moving to South Carolina with her family in 1988. Ms. Joy is a University of South Carolina graduate, where she focused on social work and psychology and obtained her degree to be a residential counselor. Since graduating she has worked with three different children’s homes in South Carolina, Virginia, and New York.

“Working with the teens at Palmetto Place is my dream job,” says Ms. Joy, “I’m passionate about being able to help them the way I do and I put my heart and soul into meeting their needs any way I can.”

At a shelter like ours there’s no such thing as a typical day, but for Ms. Joy an a-typical day is just another opportunity to face a challenge head on.

“Most days my office door stays open and the teens wander in to talk about what is on their mind. Sometimes we talk about friends and get caught up in laughter, other times we talk about the heavier issues weighing on them and share tears together. These walk-in sessions usually keep me pretty busy during the day.

Occasionally I like to help them build relationships with each other, our staff and myself outside of the office too. Many of these kids have missed their childhoods and never learned to play, so we do fun activities like the ropes course at the zoo, jumping at the Plex and simple things like mindfulness walks.

In addition to keeping an open door and building relationships outside of the office, I also run a weekly group counseling session that the kids seem to love. Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) I focus on building each teens capabilities and skills to overcome grief, loss and depression. I think one of their favorite activities is our monthly all-nighter. I stay the night with them and we have a group session, play games, eat junk food and watch movies. I love to see their smiles and relaxed attitudes as they drop their guard to play.”

Ms. Joy’s sense of humor and fun loving personality is one of her biggest assets. Her heart to help those in need has truly defined her life. “I have three adopted children who are my whole heart,” say Joy, “But we also have four dogs and two cats. I guess you could say I’m big into pet rescue. I’d love for the shelter to have a doodle dog so I can do pet therapy with the kids too.”

Ms. Joy is planning several new session topics for the kids and can use your help collecting supplies. She is looking for beanbags to make her office more comfortable during group sessions, fruit infusing water bottles to encourage healthy drink options, and this book to help the teens use DBT therapies in everyday life. She is also looking for tents and camping supplies so the kids can connect to nature during the next all-nighter.

Donations and supplies can be mailed to P.O. Box 3395, Columbia, SC 29230 or email for other pickup options.