360 Youth Services children

Issue Sneak Peek: Empowering the Youth of Tomorrow

Friday, June 13, 2014 Joshua Beck

There are often moments that many people feel alone in their struggles. Nearly 80 percent of the individuals affected by depression do not receive treatment. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 Million adults (6.7 percent) of the US population 18 years and older. Depression is the cause of over 2/3 of the 30,000 reported suicides in the US each year. The reality is that many of the people facing issues such as depression or who may have struggles in their life, feel quite powerless.

A day in the life of a transitional housing client

These statistics are dire and are a reality of the American daily life. Many people have been affected by or know someone affected by suicide or depression. Yet, it can be preventable when that depression is channeled and dealt with properly. Depression is a topic that I have highlighted in this publication in the past. This is due to the fact that the topic hits very close to home.

360 Youth Services is one of those vital organizations that help those who often feel they don’t have another chance, another opportunity or a way out. Yet, instead of just giving them a way out, 360 Youth Services offers youth the chance to learn skills that will allow them to see success into their adult life and ultimately create their own way out. The organization helps these young people who may come from challenging backgrounds find the strength within themselves to lead successful and fulfilling lives. They ensure that these individuals take charge and are responsible for their own success.

Two individuals in particular, Ron Hume and Nancy Wiersum, man the helm of this organization, but they always make it a point to credit their amazing team for the growth the organization continues to see. Their journey into this world is one that began with an interest in people, but that also developed from personal experiences.

Ron Hume, Executive Director of 360 Youth Services began his journey thinking he would become an electrical engineer, but as life often does, he was thrown a curve ball. His father passed away during his time between freshman and sophomore years of college. This tragic loss affected him beyond what he could handle. He lost interest in school, felt desolate and the emotional burden he carried weighed him down.

He often recalled thinking that, “no-one should ever have to go through such emotional turmoil without somebody there to help them.” Due to this, his life path changed and he found his way into sociology and psychology and ultimately clinical psychology. His experiences helped shape the career he took on and instilled an immense passion for the work he does.

That passion and clinical background has helped him immensely as he continued on into his Executive positions. Not only does he have the understanding of the work from a therapy point of view, but also from an administrative side which has allowed him to develop great teams and successful programs from the ground up. 

Nancy Wiersum, Development Director, began her non-profit journey working with organizations such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She and her husband had a profound love of music and were 2 of the inaugural members of the organizations young professionals committee. It was an amazing educational experience and opportunity in terms of fundraising and subscriptions. Her passion for philanthropy and volunteering has always been a driving force behind her life.

Even as a mother with young children, Nancy found time to be of service to her community. She truly believes in the ideal that the non-profits in Naperville, truly “make up the fabric of the community”. She frequently showcases other organizations on her show Spotlight on Naperville. Her degrees in Communication and Education have helped to ensure her ability to act in an organizational leadership role, but what ultimately led her to 360 Youth Services is her connection to a woman she met on the streets of Chicago.

For example, the agency is working to help people that need them the most and after a recently received approval – they are including transitional housing for youth that associate with LGBTQ identities. The people who work at 360 Youth Services do their jobs without the expectations of even a thank you. They understand that the best thing they can do for the people they serve, is to allow those individuals to take ownership for the changes they make in their own lives.

These individuals who were lost, have truly become empowered. Offering programs such as Power of Choice and Operation Snowball help to educate students on prevention, mentor programs inspire youth and housing programs give young people the life skills they need to overcome homelessness. Each of these services helps youth to take back the power that has always been deeply rooted in their hearts. It allows them to develop the confidence to believe that they can overcome any obstacles that they may face.

Images courtesy of 360 Youth Services
If you or anyone you know is facing depression are located in the Dupage County area and in need of crisis support, contact 360 Youth Services: 630.961.2992. If you are outside of Dupage and you are in need of immediate help or having suicidal thoughts, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention lifeline 24/7 at 800.273.8255.

Jennifer Lezan
To read the full article, check out Halfstack's summer issue set to release June 17th! You can read online at www.issuu.com/halfstackmag.

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