Growing up, every kid needs a helping hand to navigate life’s obstacles. Often it’s a parent, grandparent or older sibling, guiding them through the lessons and difficulties of adolescence. But sometimes a teacher or mentor steps into that role. For Chris Storey, it was the staff at Juneau Youth Services.
“I believe that Juneau Youth Services is one of the most essential programs in town,” Storey said.
The State of Alaska placed Storey in adoptive care as a one-year-old because his biological mother was unable to care for him. The state placed him with his adoptive mother who was also a foster parent. He grew up living with three brothers and eight sisters.
From the time of his placement, he was connected with JYS. As Storey became a self-proclaimed rebellious teenager, he found himself more involved in programs like Montana Creek. While in state custody, he was required to take JYS courses including the chemical dependency group. Looking back, Storey realizes the coping skills he learned through that group also helped him work through feelings of anger, anxiety and depression.
“JYS deals with tons of different kids with different needs, wants and ways to learn,” Storey said. “The patience that the staff has in all situations is awe-inspiring. It made me want to be more like them.”
With the help of JYS, Storey made it through the tough adolescent years and is now a thriving adult. He has his own family and an exciting new career. He recently started as a behavioral health associate at JYS.
“They were the guiding hand for me at the lowest point in my life, and here I am now,” Storey said.
Storey is excited to pull from his difficult past to help future generations. However, he knows that every kid is an individual with their own story and struggles. “No two people take the same path and the best that I can do is hope that I can be that guiding hand that I had growing up.”