May Matching – Kassandra’s Story
At Youville Centre, we always appreciate when alumnae remain in contact with the Centre, or reach out to connect and update on where they are now. Kassandra Gravelle, a 2013 Youville graduate, is one such student. Kassandra is enrolled in the Herzing College Community Service Worker program, and in the fall, she chose to highlight Youville’s programs and services, for one of her projects on community organizations. Along with a few other students in her program, she returned to the building for a tour, and to interview staff. This project helped to inform her classmates on the work our non-profit organization does, and students in her program worked together to run a bake sale fundraising event, benefiting Youville Centre.
Kassandra was interested in a student placement at Youville, applied, and was the successful candidate for this position. In February, Kassandra began her internship, working with the Communications and Development team, supporting with a variety of tasks and responsibilities. Kassandra came up with the creative and humorous content for the Ultimate Date Night Raffle social media campaign (example below), with daily posts highlighting each participating sponsor. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, she completed the end of her placement working remotely, and she also designed this amazing artistic graphic (pictured below) that was featured with our recent Mother’s Day social media message. Thank you Kassandra!
Kassandra’s hard work was greatly appreciated, and we know she will continue to connect with Youville in meaningful ways, as she has a passion for non-profit community organizations, especially ones that support young mothers! Kassandra has prepared her story, and shared it below, as she believes that Youville Centre was an important step in her journey, and hopes this message will provide awareness for our donors, especially during the annual Mother’s Day May Matching campaign, of the impact Youville Centre had on her life, and many other young mothers.
Here is Kassandra’s Story…
“I sought out Youville during a very uncertain time in my life. I was still attending high school, with only a year left until graduation, and I was pregnant. My son was born at the very beginning of my final school year, which prevented me from attending that specific high school. I wanted to be someone who my son was proud to call “Mom,” so I self-referred to Youville in order to achieve this.
As an already anxious young first-time mother, I was filled with anxiety at the thought of leaving my son with anyone, so having the childcare on site helped me overcome that huge barrier. With him being in the same building as I was, I was able to visit him whenever I needed to and was even able to spend the lunch hour with him whenever he wasn’t napping. My son’s time in the Youville daycare helped him learn and grow in ways that I was scared I was not able to provide him at the time. While I never fully overcame my own separation anxiety until after our time at Youville, the confidence I slowly built, thanks to the caring support of the childcare staff, enabled me to fully overcome it when I was ready.
During my first week in the classes, I told my homeroom teacher she “shouldn’t get used to my being there,” as I wasn’t planning on staying at Youville very long. I started at Youville in January and was told that graduation would be in June, so I made it my goal to get my six credits in time to graduate. My homeroom teacher, as well as every other teacher I had at Youville, helped me to the best of their abilities to reach that goal, all while pushing me to do my best work and make sure I was proud of the work I was completing and handing in. I graduated from Youville only five months after starting at Youville, in the same month that my peers from my old high school graduated. I’m so grateful to the teachers for their kind encouragement during my times of discouragement because I strongly feel that without them, I wouldn’t have achieved that goal.
Youville is most commonly known for their childcare and their classes, however, it was someone outside of those that I feel made the biggest impact on me during my time. At Youville I had an amazing counsellor who, for the first time ever in my history of seeking out counselling, made me feel heard, understood, and free of judgement. In just a few meetings, she made me rethink everything I had previously thought about counselling, and I finally felt like my mental health truly mattered to someone else. My counsellor is someone I have often thought about after leaving Youville, and thinking of her always brings a smile to my face because I know that the girls that see her after me are in good hands and with someone who genuinely cares.
Youville Centre is somewhere I’m proud to have gone to. The variety of staff helped me grow as a mother, and grow as an individual. At Youville, I made several friendships and some of those were lifelong friendships. I now have two daughters as well as my son, and if any of them ever came to me with the same situation I was in, or even if they confided to me that their friend was in that position, I would without hesitation recommend The Youville Centre for help. The Youville Centre itself may just be a building, but those within it are a family that welcomes everyone that needs them with open arms.”
The month of May is Youville’s annual Mother’s Day May Matching fundraising campaign. For more details, please visit http://www.youvillecentre.org/ways-to-give/help-us-grow/ and consider donating now to help empower young mothers to build a better future for themselves and their children!