Youth In Need Believes in the Power of Potential

Youth in Need, a local non-profit organization, supports the St. Charles area’s youth and families by offering different services, from counseling to education programs.


Credit to Alex Rowe

The main Youth In Need office is located at 516 Jefferson Street. The Teen Parent Program is held on the top floor of the building next door. The Teen parent program offers counseling for teenage mothers or teens expecting children.

By Carolynn Gonzalez

Walking into 516 Jefferson St., just shy of Main Street, one feels a sense of community and warmth. Though the building is old, it’s homey and inviting. This is one of Youth in Need’s many locations, where they have served the youth and families of the St. Charles area for more than 40 years.

“I had an experience as a teenager,” April Klutenkamper, marketing director for Youth In Need, said. “I had a friend who needed some assistance and actually spoke with one of the therapists here at Youth In Need. It was just a one-time thing but I remember being with him when he was going through this stuff and being really impressed with the organization.”

Youth In Need is a non-profit organization that provides counseling and education for the area’s youth and families. The organization serves an area of 100 miles with locations in St. Charles County, Warren County and Montgomery County. In 2015 alone, Youth In Need served 12,500 children through its multiple programs.

Alyssa Barber

“There’s a need for an organization like us, unfortunately, because there are kids and families who experience crisis and trauma in their lives,” Klutenkamper said. “Sometimes that’s hard to navigate and there’s also experiences that families and kids have that are beyond their control and they need somebody to help them through that. That’s where Youth in Need is going to come in a variety of capacities.”

Youth In Need offers many services that cater to the needs of children and families. From shelters for homeless children, to the teen parent program, to standard counseling and support, Youth In Need’s variety of programs make sure to encompass a large portion of the community.

“I think that all of our programs fall into one of three categories,” Klutenkamper said. “It’s all about crisis intervention, prevention and transition. And we are about helping kids and families through all three of those things.”

The organization was formed in 1974 in St. Charles to shelter homeless children. Before Youth In Need, the community lacked a place for the homeless youth to stay, and they were housed in the county jails with adult criminals, according to Klutenkamper.

“One of the county jail chaplains and a sheriff saw that there was a need for a shelter, a need for a safe place for homeless kids to go, and that was when the emergency shelter opened,” Klutenkamper said.

The staff with their passion and dedication toward helping people is what makes Youth In Need so special, according to both Klutenkamper and Tiffany Hilke, a child, youth and family therapist. Along with their dedicated staff, Youth In Need strives to assist anyone who needs help by offering their free counseling services. The organization even has a Spanish-speaking therapist for families and kids with Spanish as their predominant language.

“Everybody from the CEO to the caseworker is really invested,” Hilke said. “I have had the opportunity to meet so many people across so many programs and they’re just on fire with what they do. They’re excited about helping people, they’re excited about learning.”

According to Hilke, the community being involved in helping Youth In Need is very important. People in the area can support Youth In Need by providing cash donations, volunteering or participating in holiday drives like the one hosted by the radio station 93.7 The Bull. Those who are interested in being more active in helping Youth In Need can be a part of FLYIN (Future Leaders-Youth In Need), a community-based program to help families and children.

“[FLYIN] kind of died out when the founding group moved on to their own life experiences and so we’re jump-starting that again,” Hilke said. “It’s more community-based than before with getting people involved with not just fundraisers, but events and activities so that way people can talk to us about what we do and why it’s important.”

At Youth In Need, many believe in the power of potential. According to Hilke, every family and client can reach their full potential with the right support because they have it within themselves.

“Just being able to see that people are happy and having any support or influence in that is incredible,” Hilke said.