News & Events


We’re happy to announce our 5th Annual Awards Gala!

 Mark your calendars & stay tuned for more exciting details.


To commemorate Martin Luther King Day 2020, students from Youth Crossroads and Morton West High School are teaming up to create “The 2020 Inclusion Project,” a mural celebrating Berwyn’s cultural vibrancy. 

This project is made possible through the generous support of BMO Harris Bank. The mural, which will be installed on the new Youth Crossroads building, 6501 Stanley Avenue in Berwyn, is being developed in partnership with the Berwyn Development Corporation, the Berwyn Public Art Initiative, Morton West High School and AmeriCorps Member Ryan Arnold.

The lead artists on the project are local community artist Antonia Ruppert, and Rob Moriarty, fine art teacher, Morton West High School, who was recently named the 2019 Illinois Art Educators Association’s Secondary Art Teacher of the Year. Since December 3, 2019, students have participated in workshops to learn about Dr. King’s life and legacy in the social justice movement, as well as the history and traditions of social justice murals, and art as a tool for community development.


 There will be 4-5 workshops in January and February to collaborate on developing an artistic rendering of the mural. Students will gather at Youth Crossroads on Martin Luther Day, January 20, 2020, to begin production of the mural, which will be formally installed on the exterior of Youth Crossroads in Spring 2020.

Youth Crossroads is there to help young people heal, feel connected, and be inspired to reach their fullest potential.

December 2019

“I was outraged by these people! I did not want the school, the government, involved in my business!”


That was Sandra R.’s first reaction when she learned that her daughter Jinnah, a student at Morton West High School, was starting school-based counseling services with Youth Crossroads.

Then a sophomore, Jinnah began to suffer from severe anxiety attacks. She would walk out of class, get physically ill, and shut down both emotionally and physically.  After going to the school nurse on one of those days, Jinnah was referred to Youth Crossroads’ counseling office at West. Mom was quickly contacted by a YC counselor and was put at ease that any services would be strictly confidential.


The first time Jinnah walked into the YC counseling room at school, she immediately sensed that it was a special place. She would return often to that counseling space over the next two years. 

During her junior year at school, Jinnah was involved in some unhealthy relationships that left her feeling used and lonely. She was also struggling with her sexuality and felt the heavy burden of “coming out” to her mom and other important people in her life. She started smoking weed and drinking to help make the pain go away. Graduating from high school was in question.

At this crossroads in her life, the trust and connection Jinnah formed with Jackie, her YC counselor, helped Jinnah begin to take back control of her life. It was also around this time that Jinnah’s mom Sandra, started participating in counseling sessions with Jackie and Jinnah at the school.

Jinnah and her mom began to build a different kind of relationship based on open, calm, and honest conversation rather than the yelling and angry finger-pointing cycle they had previously become trapped in. As Sandra put it,

 “Our counselor gave us the tools to communicate honestly with each other;

   to really listen to each other. I’m so proud of the hard work Jinnah put in to

   change her life. She learned, as did I, how to cope. Jinnah was blessed with

   new insights and desire to be the best she could be. YC…(Jackie) helped

   give me my daughter back!”


Sandra added, “It’s scary to open yourself up. I want to let parents know how important it is to put their own insecurities aside, and get help, for the sake of their family.”

Jinnah went on to graduate from high school. She is working now in a local grocery store and is comfortable meeting and working with the public. Her anxiety attacks are gone. She has new friends she trusts and who help her stay away from unhealthy lifestyles.

“I felt like that counseling space was the safest room in the whole school!  

  I could always stop in and talk, and leave feeling stronger, smarter, better.

  I was given my life back, given my mom back. I don’t know where I’d be

  now without YC and the support provided by Jackie!”


Jinnah and her mom Sandra are one example of positive outcomes that Youth Crossroads makes with over 1,200 young people and their families each year. Whether it’s through individual and group counseling, crisis intervention for kids who have runaway or been locked-out of home, through after-school mentoring and support services for local middle school students, or our teen Youth Leadership Program.


P.S. When we asked Jinnah and her mom Sandra if we could share their story and picture with you, they didn’t hesitate to say yes. When asked why folks should support YC, Sandra commented “because you’re changing lives, you’re healing families, you’re creating new opportunities to learn and grow!” 

Mural Update

October, 2019

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new mural in the underpass at Oak Park Avenue & 30th Street in Berwyn took place on October 3. Check out this moving story.

“Before Diego Andrade joined Youth Crossroads last summer, he mostly kept to himself. He was an introvert, a shy, ‘quiet kid’ who was unaware of his skills, charisma or inner strength. In front of a small crowd that gathered on the night of Oct. 3, Andrade talked of how lending a hand to transform the Berwyn underpass …”

Mural site – Oak Park Ave & 30th St., Berwyn (by the YMCA)



 October, 2019 

Michelle Desideri, Director of Counseling Services, just celebrated her 22nd anniversary working with local youth at Youth Crossroads! Her well-honed skills as a counselor, trainer, staff and intern mentor have served her well in changing young lives for the better. Thank you, Michelle! 

TRAINING POLICE TO HANDLE TRAUMA                                                                                                                                                 July, 2019

 “A veteran police officer in Cicero, Illinois, is quick with an answer when the therapist asks him: “What’s the worst thing you’ve witnessed on the job?”Instantly, it’s 2010, an icy Valentine’s Day, and Officer Joseph Melone is staring in horror as flames engulf a three-story house. Melone is an arson specialist, and when the fire subsides, it’s his job to pick through the rubble. Seven people are missing. The oldest is 20; the youngest is that man’s newborn.”  


                                         WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU! 

Early in the morning on Friday, June 7, a small army of new friends and volunteers arrived at Youth Crossroads to put the finishing touches on what was a former warehouse and is now an almost-completed community hub. As the campaign slowly winds down, our 45-year-old youth services agency finally moved into its new permanent home!

Fifty volunteers from Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago and the Primera Foundation spent a “Give Back Day” helping us with interior painting and build-outs, outdoor landscaping, and moving stored furniture into the building. We are deeply appreciative of their talent, positive energy, and donated materials that helped make our new home a place of beauty and joy. It was a long fun day spent with new partners and friends. Thank you, Primera and Rebuilding Together!


Youth Crossroads Announces $300,000 Campaign to Establish New Permanent Home

Youth Crossroads’ BUILD   FUTURE   SUCCESS campaign has been picking up steam toward completion of  its new building.  The roof is finished, ceilings repaired, most walls are up, and we’re trying to complete the job to be up and running at full speed as soon as possible. To date, the campaign has raised more than $271,000 of the $300,000 goal which will renovate a drab warehouse into a welcoming community hub.

Youth Crossroads is in the final leg of its multi-phase campaign over the next few months to reach its goal of creating an accessible building with dynamic programming for local youth and families. Naming opportunities are available inside and outside the building  at different levels of donations. Learn how you can be a part of this legacy. Give us a call to see how you can be a part of changing lives for local kids through Youth Crossroads.

To learn more about the campaign or to make a donation, call 708-484-7400 or visit



Youth Crossroads Inc. thrives on partnerships.  A great example of this is the recent collaboration between our Youth Leadership Program (YLP) and Hope Houses Workshop here in Berwyn.

Development of a new line of vintage wooden toys sparked an idea– why not invite the YLP teens to build toys for the Head Start children of Hephzibah Children’s Association of Oak Park.  “The workshop exists to grow imaginations, connect people and promote a Family is Key belief; these three organizations working together is magical and heartwarming”, says Steve Lefko, founder and owner of Hope Houses Workshop. 

Teens built 60 toys at the workshop over three evenings and learned about wood working and craftsmanship.  Toys included a Jacobs Ladder, Tops, Rubber Band Cars and Trapeze Clown, each with a handwritten and encouraging note for each recipient. Then we took the toys to children in the Head Start Program. It was like Santa Claus in Summer! The children watched a demonstration of each toy and then selected the one they wanted. Huge smiles all around. The adults had as much fun as the kids!

Watch a video about the project here and learn More about Hope Houses Workshop here!


Social Media Team Creates Film Documentary

After a year of planning, conducting surveys, interviewing, filming, and editing, the Youth Leadership Program Social Media Project crew proudly premiered its first documentary film entitled “Finding Our Way, The Struggle with Anxiety and Depression in Urban Youth” on August 26, 2016, at Liberty Center in Berwyn.

Realizing the effects of being bombarded by social media messages, TV, peers, family, and school pressures, the team decided to delve into the issues of teen depression and anxiety which plague so many teenagers today. They surveyed their peers, interviewed fellow students and professional adults familiar with these issues and their impact on teenagers’ lives. The team plans to present the film to other teen groups and middle schoolers throughout the school year.

Watch the Documentary…

Teen Leaders Transform Berwyn’s 8th Ward Fire Hydrants

Berwyn’s 8th Ward Alderman Nora Laureto conducted a unique beautification project along the Roosevelt Road business corridor this past week involving 25 teen volunteers from Youth Crossroads and resident adult artists from the Berwyn Arts u0026amp; Music (BAM) organization. About ten fire hydrants along Roosevelt Road between Wenonah and East Avenues were transformed with paint by the teens into dragons, bubblegum machines, music sheets, and other creative themes under the watchful eye of local artists.

With all paint and supplies donated by Alderman Laureto, approval from the Berwyn Fire Department, and cooperation from Berwyn’s Public Works Department, the volunteers spent most of Saturday, October 17, creating the masterpieces. Alderman Laureto expressed her satisfaction with  the project,

“This wonderful group of volunteer teens did an amazing job brightening up Roosevelt Road. It’s great to see local young people get involved in their community, and they should be proud of their contribution to this city.”

Alderman Nora Laureto, Sofia Zabawa, Lupe Blanco, and Rosie Diaz complete work on their gumball machine hydrant. Dragon: Alejandra Herrera puts the finishing touches on her team’s dragon hydrant.  Dalmation: Stephanie Barajas and Daniella Ortega show off this dog-ready hydrant with their clever design. Clouds: Michelle Mora, Melissa Bobadilla. Pizza: Max Ramos.  Mario Brother: Juan Valdez. Music: Pink Base Coat: Issac Saucedo and Janie Dam.  Dragon: Alejandra Herrera and Bernice Pina.