Everyone dreams about how they want their life to look, but not everyone has the same level of opportunity to fulfill these dreams.
Some of us grow up in loving families with solid support systems, while some of us are born into hardship and trauma. None of us can choose the life we’re born into; none of us can write our own first story.
Kelsey’s story has some of the lowest lows we’ve heard yet as well as one of the most relatable closings, and it’s made all the more affecting by the way she’s able to reflect on her situation and the situations of other youth like her. We finish our time together talking about homelessness, Second Story’s work, and what goes unnoticed and unsaid about youth in crisis, and it’s a conversation you can’t afford to miss with someone who knows all-too-deeply what she’s talking about. If you've enjoyed this season, we hope you will join us for our second Beacon of Hope Virtual Fundraiser on October 26th at 12:30 pm. Learn more and register at second-story.org/2021-virtual-fundraiser. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
40 min 9 sec
For the last installment of this season’s topical discussion on values we’re talking about empowerment. In addition to meeting basic needs, Second Story's programs seek to empower youth and families to know their rights, to know what opportunities are available to them as well as what support they can access if they need help again in the future, and to know how to advocate for themselves. Today we speak to Edwin, Community Organizer for Second Story in the Community, about how this really looks. Edwin talks to us about what effective outreach can look like, his hopes for the neighborhood he serves, and the impact that empowerment can have on the life of a young person. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
23 min 48 sec
A 2021 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation uncovered some especially alarming news about mental health. 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder, and 31% of parents reported that their child’s emotional or mental health worsened during the pandemic. At Second Story we believe that emotional, physical, and mental wellness are all connected, and thus focusing on mental wellbeing when working with young people is crucial. Today we’re speaking to Cathy, Second Story’s new Vice President of Residential Services and Senior Therapist about how this really looks in our programs. And she offers us a very welcome bit of good news: because even while overall mental health as suffered as a result of COVID, the increased awareness around mental wellness is changing our communities for the better. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
28 min 22 sec
Daniel was a basketball star. One of the best in Virginia during his high school years, in fact. He received a scholarship to play in college and he remembers all the hard work he had to put in. He was living the dream of many younger kids on the court, but behind the scenes, when he left practice for the night, things weren’t so shiny. Throughout many of those years he experienced homelessness, he couch-surfed, he wasn’t sure where his next meal would come from. He started to understand the appeal of drugs, of gangs, but his love for basketball kept him focused, and ultimately brought him the community he needed to thrive, to find safety and stability. Now an adult, Daniel lives and works in close proximity to Second Story. Years later he still remembers feeling unloved, feeling ashamed, feeling alone, and he’s committed to ensuring other youth don’t have to feel the same way he did. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
34 min 4 sec
For the first of our topical episodes this season we’re speaking again to our CEO, Judith Dittman, about equity. Judith is the first to say that she’s not the right person to talk to about experiencing inequities – she's a white, middle-class woman with a stable job. In fact, she’s been with us for more than two decades. But this, her leadership role at Second Story, is the reason why she’s one of the right people to talk to about combatting inequity. She’s been at the forefront of supporting youth through our work, and she’s served on many policy committees and groups working to create a more equitable society. Through other episodes this season, as we always do, we’ll hear the personal side as well – stories from people who’ve experienced this firsthand. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
24 min 9 sec
We're excited to bring you a fourth season of Second Stories with new episodes through the month of September! We'll be hearing from members of the Second Story team on three of the values that drive our mission - equity, mental wellness, and empowerment - as well as two stories of people in our community. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
3 min 13 sec
In this episode we talk with Meghan Huebner, Second Story's Vice President of Residential Services. Meghan talks about some of the unique challenges for youth and families experiencing homeless during the pandemic and how Second Story has been able to safely support the youth in our programs as well as find new opportunities to reach youth who need help. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org.
35 min 31 sec
Jimena experienced homelessness for a long and exhausting five years. Her situation made her eligible for more than one of our programs – she was a teenager, a young mom, largely abandoned by her family, floating in and out of increasingly risky situations because of her desperation. Yet Jimena is one of the many youth who was not able to find help through Second Story or another like ours, for some of the unfortunately usual reasons: she didn’t know what was available to her, and she was burdened by shame and embarrassment. Jimena shares her story with a rawness and vulnerability that gives us a peek into what it’s like to be in her position, and she reflects with a rare clarity on how those years felt and how they have impacted her as a woman and a mother. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
35 min 20 sec
In this episode we’re speaking to Nandred, Second Story’s Vice President of Community Based programs. She leads Second Story’s efforts in our broader community. When we talk about the “most vulnerable” in our communities, we are often referring to many families we serve through these programs. They struggle with poverty and disconnection, human trafficking and gang violence, poor living conditions, and a lack of access to many of the services that the rest of us take for granted. Nandred tells us about the unique needs of these communities, why COVID-19 has been especially challenging for them, and what we're doing to help. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
29 min 47 sec
In this episode, we’re speaking with Cathy, Second Story’s Senior Therapist. She leads Second Story’s counseling and mental health evaluations, working both to support staff and implement best practices and also one-on-one with youth struggling with their mental health. She talks to us about the relationship between COVID-19 and mental health and why this has been an especially challenging time for the young people we serve. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
25 min 32 sec
Anne Kim is a journalist, author, and fountain of wisdom and insight on youth issues. Her book Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection explores a sobering reality: that nearly five million young people, nearly 12 percent of youth aged sixteen to twenty-four, experience disconnection and abandonment as they enter adulthood. Anne educates us on the causes and consequences of this reality, especially in light of the ways our economy and society is changing right now, and helps us understand what we can do about it. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
31 min 26 sec
Caitlin grew up without the family structure a lot of us take for granted, entering the foster care system as a preteen and juggling between families throughout her teenage years until she was emancipated at 18. Yet Caitlin is not one to focus on what she didn’t have but rather what she did: ingenuity, independence, and outright intelligence. Her story sheds light on an important group: teenagers in foster care and otherwise disconnected youth, and she introduces us to all that these young people have many times endured and also all that they have to offer us. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
35 min 6 sec
We’re starting off this season with a special episode about COVID-19 and its impact on our work and young people in our community. We begin with Judith, Second Story’s CEO, to talk about how the pandemic has affected our work. As Second Story’s primary decisionmaker and leader, Judith gives us a bird’s eye view of how COVID-19 has both impacted Second Story overall and, more broadly, the youth who seek services like ours both in our community and beyond. To hear more about how you can support Second Story’s COVID-19 needs visit www.second-story.org/news/covid-19
24 min 3 sec
Introducing Second Stories season three! Season three of Second Stories brings you more stories from youth in our community as well as a focus on some of the important issues that put young people in vulnerable positions - things like homelessness, abuse, and mental health challenges. We’ll also be digging into how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting youth in crisis through conversations with staff and other experts in the field. Our seven-episode season will begin on August 12th with new episodes released each Wednesday.
2 min 35 sec
Renée has a law degree, a master's degree, and a PhD. She also was born into poverty. She was a single parent. She was abused. She was a college dropout. We see in her a world changer as much as we see her early disadvantages, and in that we are hopeful, we are even more resolved that regardless of a young person’s challenges, with the right kind of intervention, they truly can do anything If you’ve been inspired by the stories this season and want to make a difference, we invite you to donate to Second Story. Visit www.second-story.org/give to contribute.
31 min 37 sec
In some of their most tender years, young people need stability and support at home. But this isn’t always possible, and the stakes can be high. Tina Seeley, Program Manager for Second Story for Teens in Crisis, Lucy, from our last episode, and Lucy’s mom, Penny, join us today to talk about family trauma -- what it can mean for young people, and the ways that families can work to create supportive and understanding places to thrive together. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
30 min 28 sec
Lucy’s story is remarkably normal. In fact, statistics say that about half of us will find solidarity with Lucy in that about half of us are children of divorce. Lucy, in many ways, gives voice to our collective experience. She relives something that is familiar for many of us, and forces us not to write off our pain even if it’s “normalized.” She reminds us that pain doesn’t have to be unique or unusual or diagnosable to be valid. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
To experience something traumatic can feel earth-shattering, but common wisdom says that when we experience trauma we should process, recuperate, and “keep calm and carry on.” But it’s actually much more complicated than that - trauma can become a sort of Kaleidoscope, keeping a person from processing or living as they could before. Cathy Benn, Second Story’s senior therapist, shares about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while Chrystel talks about her personal experience. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
32 min 5 sec
Today’s story looks at something major, what came and went as a major news story for most of us, and zooms all the way in at one person’s experience. Because even when we talk about issues and epidemics, they are, at their core, a collection of stories and experiences, and they’re completely more personal than we often make them seem. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
33 min 43 sec
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 10 million people a year are physically abused by an intimate partner, and young women, between the ages of 18 and 24, are the most common victims. One of these young women is Bree, from our last episode. Angel, Program Manager for Second Story for Young Mothers, and one of Bree’s most important supporters during her time in the program, will be sharing some more information about how abuse affects specifically young women and their greater circle – their futures, dreams, children, and mental health, while Bree will be reflecting on how some of the broader stats and facts feel personal for her. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
29 min 49 sec
At a young age, Bree saw most of the things she thought could count on fall away. But rather than focusing on the present that betrayed her, Bree was brave enough to look to the future that she dreamt of. This is a story of how a young woman, in the midst of hardship, chose to keep going, full of tenacity and hope. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at www.second-story.org
34 min 20 sec
New episodes, more remarkable stories, available for listening this fall. We are thrilled to bring you season TWO of Second Stories! We produced season one with high hopes and the conviction that each story was worth telling, and we were so thankful for your responses. You, alongside us, were inspired by each person’s honesty and galvanized by their experiences. Your feedback touched us and each of the interviewees, thank you. We always hoped to tell more stories, and we’re really excited to do that in this new season.
3 min 16 sec
Amanda's family dynamic might sound familiar to many of us: things looked lovely on the outside but were actually challenging and dysfunctional. She remembers tension, addiction, financial pressure, and marital struggle that only worsened as she grew up. Amanda grew used to carrying this secret: that her family wasn't as intact as they appeared. It got harder, though, once her dad became abusive and her parents divorced. Years later, now a wife and mom, Amanda is pulling her family's experience from the shadows with the belief that her story isn't shameful, but rather a way to show others that hope and healing are possible.
34 min 22 sec
Bonnie’s home was safe in the literal sense of the word. She had a roof over her head, food to eat everyday, and parents who cared about her. But she felt smothered. She was lacking something important: a sense of belonging, and a sense that her feelings mattered. So she found friends who accepted her for who she was, but they also introduced her to a variety of other things that put her in harm’s way. Everything Bonnie experienced, though, helped her far more than she could have imagined at the time. Until now, many of our stories have had a clear before and after, a clear first story and second story. Bonnie’s story is different, and because of this she teaches us grace, strength, and learning from your past even when things feel darkest.
31 min 23 sec
This is part one of a two-part series from Johnny and his daughter, Merrill. When Merrill was 14 she started acting out. She wasn’t sure why, she just knew whatever she was doing made her feel better for a moment. The drinking, the drugs, the partying, all of it was covering up a darkness she was trying to shove away. Then a few years later she decided she’d had enough. She realized it wasn’t working. The darkness was still there. She reached out to someone she knew would keep her safe, her dad, and he knew exactly how to help. Merrill’s story feels familiar in context of the things we’re reading in the news and seeing on TV, but when we hear it like a story, from someone who feels like they’re sitting right beside us, it feels unique and personal in some very important ways.
36 min 1 sec
This is part one of a two-part series from Johnny and his daughter, Merrill. Johnny visited Second Story’s teen shelter as a young person when he felt he had nowhere to go. It made a profound impact in his life then, but maybe even more so decades later when his daughter was struggling like he was. He remembered his experience and knew exactly where to take her -- back to the place that made him feel safest when he felt most vulnerable. There’s a moment of striking clarity in this story: a moment where a father says to his daughter, “You need help. We need help. And I know exactly where to find it.”
32 min 33 sec
Manny and Chauncy are brothers, with stories reflecting each others’ in many ways. Both Liberian, both called Northern Virginia home for a time, and both with dreams that inspire them and keep them up at night. Chauncy had something unique, though: someone telling him he could do it. Someone reminding him that his dreams had value. Someone telling him to never give up. And this person changed everything for him.
35 min 11 sec
Simron is a first generation immigrant, originally from South Asia. When she and her family moved to the U.S. she realized her new home had different expectations -- and opportunities -- for her than anything she’d ever known. Her family, though, didn’t see things the same way. Simron wanted to go to college and pursue her dreams, while her family wanted to arrange the sort of marriage that Simron had seen lead to abuse and injustice. So she made a choice. She said, “This cycle of oppression will continue, the cycle of being helpless. And that’s when I thought, ‘I don’t want a daughter who will go through what I’m going through…’ I thought, ‘If I can’t have what I want I won’t accept what’s given to me, either. I’ll fight.’” And fight she did.
32 min 4 sec
For the most part, Tina Gordon thought she was a lot like any other kid. She went to school. She had siblings at home. She played outside. Sometimes, though, she sensed that things were...off. She didn’t always get dinner, for example, and her friends' families treated each other differently than hers' did. Then when she was seven years old, Tina and her siblings were removed from their home and placed in Child Protective Services. This is Tina’s story of being a foster child and later being adopted, dealing with rejection, and loving her biological mom even when she wasn’t the parent she should have been.
32 min 40 sec
Everyone dreams about how they want their life to look, but not everyone has the same level of opportunity to fulfill these dreams. Some of us grow up in loving families with solid support systems, while some of us are born into hardship and trauma. None of us can choose the life we’re born into; none of us can write our own first story. These situations might place us at a disadvantage, but they do not doom us. And sometimes a person or an experience helps bring the future we dreamed of into reach. It lets us pick up the pen and write our own second story. This podcast is dedicated to telling these stories -- stories of people who were born into unimaginable circumstances and were able to rewrite the narrative of their own life. Second Stories is hosted by Abigail Brougher with production support by Franklin Vaughan. This podcast is brought to you by Second Story, a nonprofit that seeks to bring safety and opportunity to homeless youth and youth in crisis in the DC metro area.
1 min 56 sec