This year’s annual Butterfly Breakfast hosted by Danbury Youth Services (DYS) was a way to thank donors and share the impact their generosity has had on youth and families in the community. At the breakfast, held June 28th at the Amber Room Colonnade, it was clear that DYS supporters are critical to helping the agency fulfill its mission to empower youth to build positive and fulfilling lives.
“DYS may be small, but our impact is big,” said Julie Schmitter, Executive Director at DYS. “Our supporters really do make all of the difference. For example, United Way of Western Connecticut funding provided 10 under-insured and uninsured youth with hundreds of hours of counseling services this year. Union Savings Bank Foundation funding helped with transportation costs for 23 TARGET youth to be bused home after school, and City of Danbury funding allowed DYS to match 56 Summer Youth Employment Program participants to work-sites in the community.
For nearly fifty years, the non-profit organization has provided programs and services to families and youth in the greater Danbury area. Many area employers were represented at the breakfast, including breakfast sponsors Nuvance Health, Linde, Newtown Savings Bank, Webster Bank, Diversified Printing Solutions, Reynolds + Rowella, Benay Enterprises, Ingersoll Auto and Nicholas / Tobin Insurance.
DYS continues to meet the changing and growing needs of their over 300 clients. The agency remains committed to the expansion of high-quality mental health care, rich social experiences, and positive youth development.
“We are in a world health crisis,” stated Elizabeth Cotter, Clinical Director at DYS. “Fifty percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14. The World Health Organization recommends that we deepen the value and commitment to mental health through a systems approach. We need to increase the number of clients we serve and focus on where, how and to whom we deliver our services.”
Cotter went on to highlight the mental health struggles youth are facing today, particularly members of the LGBTQ community.
“Thirty-six percent of LGBTQ youth report physical threats and are four times as likely to attempt suicide,” said Cotter. “Therapy helps queer people feel safe and loved.”
Cotter, introduced the guest speaker, a young person who has directly benefited from the services DYS provides. As a member of the LGBTQ community, they shared what it was like to be bullied.
During the pandemic, more than 80% of LGBTQ youth reported that COVID-10 made their living situation more stressful. Forty-eight percent said they wanted counseling, but were unable to get it.
The guest speaker shared these statistics and their experience in hopes of advocating for others and educating the public because being bullied felt bad. They are grateful for the counseling they received at DYS because the therapist made them feel accepted.