Wellness Spotlight – Brendan McNassar

Brendan McNassarBrendan McNassar has worked for Youth Villages/Christie Care in Oregon for four years. He worked for two years as a teacher counselor and has worked for the past two years as maintenance technician. Read his story to find out why he is our wellness spotlight this month.

“Since losing both my father and my oldest son to cancer, I’ve started working on building a quiet mind and a healthy body. My first step was quitting my 17-year smoking habit for the very last time. I succeeded and have been smoke-free for nearly two years. I began looking for opportunities to motivate myself toward positive change. I learned about the YV Wellness Log while attending the 2013 Employee Conference. I came back to Oregon enthusiastic and ready to go. Oregon has had teams participate in each of the challenges thus far and my co-workers participating alongside of me have been sources of great inspiration. My fitness goals for this first year have been moderate weight loss, but more importantly to work on heart health and diet. The YV Wellness Log has helped me pay closer attention to what I put into my body and the benefits of my workouts as well. The 2014 YV Satellite Race was my launch point into running. After completing the race in pretty good time and using the 10k pedometer challenge as a daily motivation to move and exercise, I decided to join YV Oregon’s first ever Hood To Coast team. HTC is a 199-mile, 12-person relay from Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast. That has been my latest motivator to get up and run every (well, almost every) morning. I have worked hard to get here but there is a long way to go. My running gives my time to sort my thoughts and give myself a little pat on the back as well. We all need that. My new motto: No shortcuts.”


North Carolina Emerging Leaders celebrate another successful year

NC Emerging LeadersFifteen North Carolina Emerging Leaders united at Beach Music in the Park in Greensboro to celebrate the completion of the nine month leadership development program. After each staff was recognized for his or her unique talents, the group relaxed to the soothing sounds of The Magnificents Band and enjoyed savory snacks from local food trucks.

Participants reflected on their overall experience in the Emerging Leaders program. The Emerging Leaders program includes monthly interactive leadership webinars, several leadership classroom courses and a behind-the-scenes look at senior leadership roles. The program provided them with a wide variety of trainings that equipped them for many potential leadership scenarios. Additionally, the personalized job shadowing allowed for unique adaptations for each individual’s desired path for growth.

Beverly Watson celebrates retirement from Inner Harbour Campus

beverly watson eventBeverly Watson recently celebrated her retirement from the Inner Harbour Campus after serving Youth Villages for 36 years. She has worked in various roles and departments, including switch board operator, medical records, administrative assistant, intake/social service coordinator, director of admissions, managed care contracting and marketing/agency relations. She most recently served as a regional representative in the marketing department at Inner Harbour.

Beverly’s family, former and current co-workers, board members and referral sources attended a retirement party at the Inner Harbour Campus to celebrate Watson’s career. Some referral sources traveled from as far as four hours away to attend. Judge Peggy Walker, Ron Scroggy, Cynthia Odom and others shared great stories and congratulatory words during the event. The Inner Harbour Campus dedicated one of the rocking chairs located on the Hewell Building porch in honor of Watson and she was showered with other gifts from staff and attendees.

“Beverly has traveled the entire state of Georgia and beyond marketing Inner Harbour programs and services and has played a key role in guiding hundreds of Georgia families to appropriate care for their youth,” Marsha Stewart, assistant director of managed care and referral sources, said. “She will most certainly be missed here on the campus and among referral source offices throughout the state of Georgia. We wish her plenty of relaxing days and a prosperous life as she transitions into retirement!”

Memphis Transitional Living Specialist Jaci Settje earns license

jaci settjeJaci Settje, transitional living specialist in Memphis, recently earned her LPC-MHSP (licensed professional counselor-mental health service provider) designation.

Licensure has always been the primary goal of Settje’s counseling career.

“I feel like I am promoting the professionalism of the counseling field by choosing to pursue my license as the field is still working toward being noticed in many areas of the country,” she said.

Youth Villages was able to help Settje reach her goal of earning her license. To earn her license, she needed to complete an accredited graduate program and complete a total of 60 graduate credits, including a 250-hour practicum and a 500-hour internship. She also needed to pass four exams and complete a minimum of 1,500 direct contact hours, 1,500 hours of other counseling-related work and 150 hours of licensure supervision. Clinical Services Supervisor Michelle Childs oversaw the licensure process for Settje.

“Jaci was very committed to the licensure process and very ambitious. Despite any work challenges she had, she always made sure she came to supervision and studied for all of the licensure exams,” Childs said. “She managed to get her license in a short time—just over two years. Sometimes it’s hard to add things into an already overbooked schedule, but she did it. She wanted the license and the extra clinical knowledge to be the best counselor possible to the youth she serves.”

Licensure will help Settje as she continues her dream of working with children and families.

“I love the difference I am able to make in the lives of the youth I have worked with and their families. While in graduate school, I was asked, ‘What do you want to do with your counseling career?’ My response was always that I wanted to work with youth and their families to make their lives better together,” she said. “When I found Youth Villages during my job search, I knew it was the right organization for me.”

Settje began working for Youth Villages in January 2011 on the Bartlett Campus. She has worked in her current role as transitional living specialist since March 2014.

“In the transitional living program, some of the young adults I work with have their own children. I guess in a way, I am promoting the relationship between parents and their children for the next generation,” she said.

Settje holds a master’s degree in counseling and psychology in education and bachelor’s degrees in alcohol and drug studies, psychology and American Indian studies from the University of South Dakota.

North Carolina office appreciates staff with games and scavenger hunt

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The Durham office recently held a staff appreciation day for the counselors who work so hard in the field. The Durham staff also invited the Greenville and Louisburg offices to join in on the fun. Staff members were split into groups and played three games. Everyone was able to compete with another team at least once. After the games, everyone participated in a photo scavenger hunt. At the end of the day, everyone enjoyed pizza and cake, and counselors and supervisors received awards. Despite the heat, everyone had a great time celebrating their hard work and bonding with one another.

Nashville summer interns host career fair for youth

Our Nashville summer interns did a fabulous job on their summer internship project, a component for all of oNashville Interns Career Fairur paid summer interns at Youth Villages. This group went above and beyond to identify a valuable project to leave a great impact on the youth we serve. The group decided to host a career fair for the youth being treated in our group homes in Nashville, TN. These teens were able to meet community members from across Nashville and learn about their career paths and potential career opportunities for them in the future. The youth had great feedback about the event and are excited for what their future holds now armed with more information about career options.

Meet Kara Faso, Senior Family Intervention Specialist in Columbia, Tennessee

Kara FasoMeet Kara Faso, Senior Family Intervention Specialist in our Columbia, Tennessee office. Kara has been with the company just over a year and is an exceptional asset to the team.  Work alongside Kara in Columbia to make a difference in the lives of families and children and families by visiting http://www.youthvillages.org/jobs and search Columbia, Tennessee.

Have you always lived in Columbia or did you relocate?
I am originally from New York but I have lived in Tennessee for over 5 years now. I lived in Cookeville while I was pursuing my master’s degree. I moved to Columbia when I was hired with Youth Villages over a year ago.

Did you always want to work with children and families?
Ever since I was little I knew that I wanted to be in the counseling field. After my parents’ divorce, I knew that working with children would be my calling.  Once I began the path of counseling and working with a wide variety of different clients, I knew that children and families would be my area of focus.

What is the best part about your job?
Working with the youth would be my favorite part. Some of the youth that we serve with are close to giving up or don’t know what else to do. Being able to work with the youth to decrease behaviors is very rewarding. Knowing that you played a small part in that change makes the job worthwhile. One of the other great things about working for Youth Villages is the flexibility and that is what initially “sold” me during my first interview. I like being able to mold my own schedule. Because of my great time management skills, I could easily prioritize my schedule and get my work done at my own pace when I was an in-home specialist, which made the job much easier.

What is most challenging about your job?
I would have to say working with a family or youth that is reluctant to services. Establishing good engagement with the family is most challenging. Some families are resistant to services and don’t trust some providers but once you establish a strong rapport, the rest falls into place. I love that in the Intercept program we can help so many families that initially feel like they’ve done and tried everything. That challenge is what I personally love about my job. We work with youth and families that Read more of this post


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