A Year of Transformation, Growth and Giving!

2017 has been a year full of transformational movement, growth and gifts for YSB.  We’ve always done great work, now we are just doing more of it in more places!

Thanks for helping YSB go the extra mile! 

Transformational (or transforming) organizations are focused on creating change to improve circumstances not just for families in need but for entire communities

YSB’s growth has focused on creating change to improve our services for the youth, families, and communities we serve. In a nutshell – we have more staff that can serve more youth in a bigger service area – and that’s a reason to celebrate!

The longer story details a year of dramatic change; take a stroll through and you will see! 

  • We are close to completing our 1.1-million-dollar program and capital expansion campaign. 
  • We have seven new staff with two more mental health therapists coming on board in January.
  • We have expanded our school-based chemical health programming from one district (834) to three (622 and 833). 
  • Our Youth and Family Education efforts have taken off as we provide learning and training opportunities to schools, businesses and community organizations at a dizzying rate.

Thank You!

Our focus over the last year has been one of creating sustainable growth – we are continually looking for additional ways to help provide the services we offer – and find new ways to fund those services. 

Increased funding to operate is becoming more and more important as we expand the scope of our services and our service areas, and reach more families without access to care.  Partnerships and collaborations are critically important, and magnify any success that we would achieve on our own. 

Did we say “Thanks?!”

YSB staff is learning to talk boldly about the important work we do ~ not always easy for some non-profit staff who prefer to let their work speak for itself!  YSB needs and welcomes your voice as we continue to go the ‘extra mile’. 

Please consider volunteering your time and talents.  Let us know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter or programming – we value your thoughts! 

We would love to partner with you, and bring our educators into your faith community or business – the possibilities are endless!

As always, you can support YSB’s work in your community by giving a tax-deductible gift:

I personally welcome your call or e-mail.
  I am always happy to meet or have a conversation about the wonderful work we do, our plans for the future, and answer any questions you may have.

With Gratitude and in Partnership,

Andrée Aronson, Development Director

Overcoming Money Woes this Holiday Season

By Guest Author: Arlene Myers, Thrivent Financial  

With the holidays only a few weeks away, have you thought about what your expenses will look like this  year? If you are like most Americans, you’ll probably spend well into the four-figure range. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Holiday Survey1, the average consumer’s holiday season budget will be more than $1,200.

Given that, it’s no surprise that financial anxiety may intrude on the holiday spirit, particularly for people already dealing with budget and/or money challenges.

Still, there are ways to overcome these hurdles. Here are a few helpful tips from Thrivent Financial for you and your family.

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When Need and Generosity Intersect

YSB Guest Author: Peg Ludtke
Valley Outreach Volunteer – Stillwater, MN

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need. — the Rolling Stones

What do you do when it seems there is bad news everywhere? How does a person fight despair when the  heartache and troubles of the world or maybe just your part of it, take hold and won’t let go? It is from this mindset that I started volunteering at the front desk at Valley Outreach last spring.

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Growing Gratitude

YSB Guest Author: Jenny Friedman
Executive Director of Doing Good Together

Inspiring a sense of appreciation in children means more than tossing off a quick “thank you.” Children who are grateful display a more positive mood and are more likely to provide support to others than those who don’t, according to researchers. Youngsters who are grateful are also happier, more optimistic, and more helpful.

To some extent, self-centeredness is developmental; young children are, by nature, selfish. But research shows that we can cultivate gratitude in children. Appreciation can be learned and practiced. And, besides spelling greater happiness, gratitude can help your child resist the seemingly pervasive sense of entitlement in our world today.

Simple Tips for Building Gratitude in Children

How do you build those gratitude muscles? Here are some family traditions that will help you embed gratitude into your daily routine. Start them now, in this season of giving thanks, and continue them all year long.

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Responding to Gun Violence

By: Dr. Gigi Chawla, Chief of General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota


Incidents of gun violence and terrorism are hard to understand and process for individuals of all ages, but especially for children. While years ago it may have been easier for kids to avoid news stories about tragedies, social media makes those catastrophes accessible and more personal. Therefore, it’s critical for parents to talk with their children about these tragedies and help them process what they’re seeing.

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The Golden Rule

By: Kim Richardson, YSB Guest Author and Woodbury Police Detective
reflects on National Bully Prevention Month 


The Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Undoubtedly, everyone has heard this phrase some time in their life. I heard it several times growing up and now tell it to my own children.

Unfortunately, many in this generation are not following wise words. I will never forget the first bullying report I took as a new School Resource Officer. A young female came to my office in tears saying several girls who used to be her friends were telling her to kill herself. I never considered myself old until that moment.

At no point growing up, did I ever think to tell someone I disliked to kill themselves. I soon realized this behavior is “normal” in the teenage world. I also realized how more frequent bullying has become. My goal for this article is for families to understand what to watch for or do if you see or suspect bullying.

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LGBTQ+ Harassment Prevention

By Makehba Nelson, Ashley Holton, and Cassie Hagen – students of South Washington County schools (District 833)

While much progress has been made towards tolerance and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, there still are issues. Harassment is still prevalent, especially within the body of American public schools. Since October is bullying prevention month, it’s essential that parents have a clear understanding of what bullying and harassment looks like, and how to properly address it as an ally, while keeping LGBTQ+ students in mind.

First let’s address the basics:   

What is LGBTQ+?

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Is School a Choice?

By: Mary Leadem Ticiu, Assistant Principal District 834, Guest Author

School has begun and questions arise related to “What should I wear, who will be my friends, how many notebooks do I need, who will they assign as my teacher, and why do I really need to go to school?” These questions reflect excitement and, for some, anxiety. The experiences of the child’s past often lead them to question what the school year will bring. Questions pose a wonderful opportunity for parents and guardians to talk about the choices we all make. I would like to consider what it means when students choose – or rather “refuse” – to go to school. If this happens, families and friends have the responsibility to listen, explain ramifications in a meaningful way, and support what is the underlying unmet need in a non-punitive manner.

As an assistant principal, you may think I am crazy letting a school-age child have an open dialogue about choosing attendance. However, there can be no choice without consequences. School is an educational pathway, like a golden ticket of greater value than a trip to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. If we allow for the discussion of choice then we can hear what is intended by the child’s questioning, resistance, and outright refusal to attend.

Research provides us with reams of evidence of the need to attend school, learn for life and project a positive trajectory into a career of military service, mission work, technical school or college. Attendance is an early indicator of invaluable soft skills and the traits of success in the workplace. Choosing not to be a student will have a severe cause and effect in short term and long-term goals. The choice, in this case, may have negative consequences.

Why then do kids balk, refuse, resist and feel a compelling urge to skip or even quit? They know it is wrong, against the rules, not in their best interest and illegal. I believe many students simply want to make their own choices. And we as adults are obligated to get in the way of their potential failure and help them succeed. We must remember our own imperfections and trials and then lead them to a good place where they choose school each and every day.

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month

By: Kara Bennett NAMI MN, Coordinator Suicide Prevention Programs, Guest Author

Suicide is a public health issue that is experienced to some degree within all demographics and age groups.
It’s the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the US and the 2nd leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24.

It’s estimated that over 90{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} of people who die by suicide lived with a diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, 90{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} of people who survive an attempt do not go on to die by suicide. These two stats provide hope within a difficult topic. These numbers show and remind us that in the vast majority of cases suicide is the outcome of a medical condition. Mental illnesses are treatable and people can get the help that they need.

NAMI Minnesota works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and other organizations across the state, like YSB, to offer suicide awareness and prevention workshops to educators, mental health care providers, families, and community members of all sorts. These workshops are important vehicles for dispelling myths around suicide and providing people with practical tools they can use to help someone through a crisis. All of our community programs are free of charge.

We are fortunate to be working more and more with YSB. Their support and partnership has allowed us to participate in collaborative meetings with the Stillwater School District and sit on a panel for the Woodbury Thrives event addressing 13 Reasons Why. We’re thankful for these opportunities and look forward to a deepening relationship that allows us to better serve Washington County.

On our website, you’ll find up to date information about scheduled workshops, as well as a list of additional suicide prevention related resources. Because September is National Suicide Prevention Month, there are many free workshops available!

You can also have us come to you by filling out our online presentation request form. We frequently speak to organizations, schools, and community groups like clubs and churches. With enough lead time, we can accommodate most requests. Check out the form for full details.

If you are worried that someone in your life may be considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit

YSB’s Expansion of Chemical Health Services in Surrounding School Districts

By Julia Geigle, MSW, LGSW, Chemical Health Prevention Specialist to ISD 834 and Program Supervisor

Having accessible chemical health support for families and students in the school is pivotal to the holistic development of students. According to nearly two decades of CASA research (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University), teens see drugs as the number one problem they face and parents’ worst nightmare is that their child will develop an addiction to substances or suffer devastating consequences from their use.

Additionally, the total societal cost of substance abuse in the United States is estimated to be over half trillion ($511 billion) dollars annually. Preventing and reducing youth tobacco, alcohol, and drug use improves quality of life, social and emotional development, academic performance, attendance, classroom behaviors, and peer/peer and peer/teacher interactions.

School districts often recognize that chemical use and abuse adversely affects a student’s physical, social, and emotional development and they want to share in the responsibility of addressing this issue.

To support the efforts of preventing and reducing youth chemical use, Stillwater Area Public Schools (Independent School District (ISD) 834) has partnered with YSB. Since 2006, YSB has been providing ISD 834 with a Chemical Health Specialist who has offered chemical health services that focus on prevention, education, and support.

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