As social distancing measures have been put in place, our youth and staff have continually found creative ways to maintain their physical distance without sacrificing emotional connections.

The most recent initiative, started by Dalla-Vincenza House, is a pay-it-forward box that has been making its rounds throughout our homes in the southern programs.

Youth care leader Victoria Chupa came up with the idea.

“I really just wanted to find a way to keep up our sense of community,” she explained. “Many of our youth and staff have built meaningful relationships, not only within our units but with staff and kids from units all around the agency. Our kids miss their teachers, old staff, friends from school and previous placements.”

Knowing that the youth at Dalla weren’t the only ones feeling that way, Victoria wanted to find a way to let staff and participants in other units know that someone was thinking of them.

“It was amazing to see how quickly the pay-it-forward box caught on,” said Dalla unit manager Mike Farrow. “It made it to three other units in less than 24 hours, which was more than we anticipated!”

“We’re so happy that the kids got involved and made creative and positive messages to send to the other units,” he continued.

The first box contained coffee for staff and donuts for the youth, along with positive messages. Since then, it has been up to each unit’s discretion what to put in the box and where to send it, but one thing has remained constant: the comfort of knowing that although we are apart physically, our connections remain strong.