Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Discovering my New Family

By Deanna S.

As a high school teacher fresh out of college, I felt afraid to share my orientation for the first time since 9th grade. I heard my students call each other “gay” and “booger,” and struggled to find the right way to address it. How could I create a positive classroom for them when even I felt uncomfortable?

I came to a course at YES Institute looking for answers; instead, I found a family. I took every course YES offered, excited each time by the freedom to be whomever I was that day, to ask new questions and to create my own solutions.

After a few courses, a friend who worked at YES Institute told me about YES Institute Young Professional Society (YIYPS). It creates opportunities to meet and network with a community of young professionals who care about YES Institute and are interested in financially investing in the work. Before she finished explaining it to me, I decided to become a Yipster - someone who donates $250.00 a year.

In the years before that conversation, I had always brushed off donation requests from other organizations. I used to think, “I’m a teacher in my early twenties; I can’t afford to fix the air-conditioning in my car, much less donate money!” Having seen the work of YES Institute, I was excited to contribute whatever I could.

At the courses, I had seen kids just like my students expanding as people and community members. During Communication Solutions™, I met a family that had been court-ordered to attend. On the first day, one of the teenage boys raised his hand and told the class, “I always thought I was OK with gay kids, but I realized that I don’t clap them up like I clap up the other kids. I don’t think that’s cool. I should clap everyone up the same.” His brother spent the first day of the course silent, slouched in the back and checking his phone. By the second day, he felt empowered to share his personal story. His surprised smile as he looked around at the other course members listening to his voice—that alone made the course worth it for me.

YES is the kind of place that helps you be your best, whether you’re a young person looking to develop your voice, a family member looking to support a child, or me, a confused young professional figuring out life and work. As a Yipster, I have the opportunity to contribute to my YES family in a new way. After some smart budgeting, I was even able to fix the air conditioning in my car!

Join us at Haven Lounge on South Beach, Thursday, August 29th at 6pm, for our third YIYPS event. 
Come ready to play games and win prizes-- and your first drink is free!  
Please RSVP to or at 305-663-7195. 

Deanna shares her story with course participants. 

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