This story is a part of our Everyday Champions series. Helping youth succeed takes commitment and action from our whole community. Everyday Champions are people who are committed and who act in small and big ways to support youth in central Indiana. Do you know someone who you think would make a great Champion for Youth? Click here to get started.
Everyday Champion Melissa Webber is a tireless advocate for the youth in her care, an excellent collaborator and a supportive mentor to her staff. As Supervisor and Case Manager with Interact Family Services, a therapeutic foster care agency, Melissa feels that she was put on earth to do the work she does, and she lives it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Melissa is always looking out for the children’s best interests even if that means she loses sleep several nights in a row,” says Jennifer Troesch, Interact Case Manager. “As a supervisor, Melissa is very supportive. She is full of innovative ideas on how to deal with difficult situations in a therapeutic setting. Melissa attends any type of meeting where she is able to find outside sources that may assist the children in our care and she is diligent about providing this information to the case managers and foster families of Interact.”
Jennifer recounted the following story of Melissa’s skill in resolving issues and determination to ensure that children in Central Indiana have a place to call home.
Several weeks ago, Melissa received a call at 11:30pm on a Saturday for an emergency placement of an Autistic child who had been physically abused and was at a local hospital. Melissa immediately found a home for this child and did not hesitate to transport this child from the hospital to a foster home in Anderson, IN.
Melissa stayed at the foster home until the child and family were stable and she did not return to her own home until 4:00am. She was then on the phone with the foster family at 7:00am Sunday morning assisting them with how to handle specific needs of a child with Autism. For the following two days, Melissa was on the phone with the family every few hours assisting them with the difficulties they were having. She then was able to identify another home that had specific training with children with Autism.
What is your profession or vocation?
I work as the Supervisor and carry a caseload as a Case Manager with Interact Family Services, a Therapeutic Foster Care Agency. I have worked with both children and adolescents for 20 years, who have had mental health issues, developmental disabilities; among other problems.
I believe as a nation all adults must work to help the youth in our communities, because one day they will be the ones we as aging adults will look to for making the decisions that will impact our society.
I try to spread the word to not only the people in our field, but to everyone I meet, that it is their responsibility to reach out to our youth and in any way they can help make a positive impact on at least one young person they know.
How are you an Everyday Champion for Youth?
This is embarrassing! I have been working with youth for so long that I know it was what I was put on this earth to do. I try every day to talk to someone about their role as an adult to be a positive influence in a youths’ life.
It does not matter if it is someone I am working with professionally or someone I meet at the grocery store; I always try to work in a conversation how adults must stop complaining about the problems with the young people these days and start becoming a part of the solution; even if that means just sending a positive message to the young people in their extended family.
What impact do you hope to make on youth?
I want all the youth in our community to understand that they ARE the future of this country; no matter what they decide to do with the rest of their lives that they need to lead the way.
I also want to make the youth I work with understand that even though their lives to this point have been a real challenge that is not a barrier to becoming a responsible and productive member of this country. I always let the youth I work with, who constantly complain about how unfair life has been to them so far; that while I sympathize for what they have been through; I will not accept that as an excuse for not trying to reach their goals and dreams.
What’s one thing that you wish an adult had told you when you were a young person?
That life is not always fair; but that everyone on this earth carries their own burdens. And, even though you may not readily see another person’s problems, we all face challenges and must never use those challenges to stop dreaming and trying to reach our goals.
What do you want to do next to support youth?
At this time; I want to continue to help the youth caught in the foster care system to find permanency in their lives. I also want to help change the view of the general population that we as adults are responsible for how the next generation goes on to lead this world.