Part four of six: The Counseling Center at Huckleberry House

Our community can expect increased access to specialized support tailored to teen and young adult challenges

For nearly 50 years, the staff at Huckleberry House has been dedicated to supporting young people and families struggling with serious issues, like poverty, homelessness, abuse, and neglect. We’ve developed knowledge and expertise specific to this population. We understand that the impact of such issues affects young people differently than adults. And we know that care must be approached in unique ways, starting with identifying and building on individual strengths and including other family members whenever possible. To help meet the growing need for this customized support, in Fiscal Year 2019, Huckleberry House strengthened our commitment to the community by working to share our expertise and approach with other professionals who serve youth.

Meet Zach, A Huckleberry House Counseling Client

When Zach was first introduced to the Counseling Center at Huckleberry House, he had zero expectations for his future. In fact, he didn’t expect to have a future at all. After his fourth suicide attempt, a friend of Zach’s intervened and told authorities at the school about Zach’s situation. Through a partnership with the school, licensed therapists from Huck House visit the building weekly to work with students. Zach was quickly connected with a Huck House counselor. But after suffering through years of neglect, physical, and mental abuse, Zach didn’t have much confidence that anyone could help.

“I knew I probably needed help,” he says. “I just felt like I should be able to do it on my own or that I didn’t really deserve it. I was also embarrassed by everything that was going on in my life, and I figured no one was really going to listen anyway.”

It took some time for Zach to start trusting his counselor. “I eventually realized this wasn’t a person who was going to laugh when I started talking about everything I’ve been through. For the first time in my life, I was talking to someone who actually wanted to hear what I have to say.”

That realization helped Zach turn a corner and start to see that he could have a future and that it could look a lot different than his current situation. Zach has since graduated from high school, but he continues to work with his counselors at Huck House and he actively participates in EMDR, an intensive trauma-based therapy.

“I used to be terrified about the prospect of anyone hurting me or taking advantage of me, but my counselors helped me see that not all people are something to fear,” he says. He is also learning to not let his past trauma hold him back from realizing his future potential. “It used to be that everything I did was to try to live up to somebody else’s unrealistic expectations. Now I can do things because they are what I want to do. I have expectations for myself that are reasonable and that I can manage.”

Those expectations currently include looking for a new apartment, working, and pursuing a college degree so he can one day become a pediatrician. “I don’t even know if I’d still be here if it weren’t for Huck House,” he says. “The freedom I’ve gained to set my own direction, work past my issues, and be myself is nothing less than incredible. It’s something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”

To learn about the expectations and results of Huck House’s programs, check out the 2019 Annual Report. 

Up next, part five: Youth Outreach Program (YOP)
In our next message, you will meet Destiny, a former YOP client