I get asked the question quite frequently "what makes Palmetto Place different than other group homes?" Having only worked at one group home and only having an outsider's view into others, I can only provide an answer that is biased. I've been at Palmetto Place in various roles for about 14 years - that's 14 Christmases and Thanksgivings, about 40 graduation ceremonies, 14 Carowinds trips, countless evenings at the dinner table talking about life with residents, and over 5,000 nights of going to bed with kids on my mind. I am certain that every one of our staff members does the same thing every single night. Our phones ring constantly with teens calling to check in or ask a simple question or just to vent about their day. Our holidays are carefully planned to ensure that they are happy days yet cautious of any sadness they may bring about. We make sure that each resident has a wonderful Christmas and receives meaningful gifts because that may be the only Christmas they experience as a child. We work diligently to find sponsors for trips and opportunities so that our residents can experience life to the fullest (thank you donors and sponsors!) - we watch them see the ocean for the first time ever at 18 years old, we take them on their first college visit and watch a glimmer of hope in their eyes as if they, for the first time, actually believe they deserve to attend college, we guide them as they learn how to properly order at a sit-down restaurant, we jump up and down with excitement with them as they pass their drivers test and get behind the wheel of their first car. The car they have been saving for two years. We shop for endless hours in search of the perfect prom dress and anxiously await for them to come home by curfew. We move them into their college dorm and make sure they have everything they need and cry as we drive away. We stand up and yell at their graduations and take family photos afterward. We do whatever it takes to ensure our residents receive what they need and deserve. We diligently work on preparing them to live as independent adults so that they never have to experience poverty and homelessness again. We provide hope when all is lost. We hug, we listen, we cry, we shout in excitement, we parent, we guide, we coach, we pour ourselves into each and every resident. We are the givers of a hundred chances and we love unconditionally. We find a way to get things done. We schedule our family holiday gatherings around being able to spend time with our residents on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas. At the end of the day, it is difficult to leave and return to our own homes and families and leave our Palmetto Place family until the next day. We are family. I'm certain there are many other group homes that function just as we do, but I'm also a firm believer that this is what sets us a part from many others. I've had residents call me over the years and ask how other staff members are doing and they always say that we provided them with a supportive family and endless love. For many residents, it is difficult to adapt to living at Palmetto Place and while they push back on us and reject the support, we continue to try and meet their needs. So what makes Palmetto Place different? It's our home and it's been a home to over 7,000 youth for 41 years. It's our staff who endlessly care for our residents. It's our support and fight for hope. It's a house filled with laughter and tears. It's family.  - Jill Lawson, Executive Director