What Does It Mean to Be #YDIStrong?

by | Aug 27, 2020 | #YDIStrong, Blog, COVID-19, Featured

With a pandemic, social unrest, murder hornets, hurricanes, a recession, and global tensions, 2020 has been a friend to few. But, as an agency, we have stayed the course, despite choppy waters. Really, it’s the strength within each of our staff that has kept us strong as a collective whole. To celebrate that strength, we posed the question: “What does it mean to be #YDIStrong?” Below you will find our staff’s moving responses.


“It means that we are doing our very best to deliver services to our most vulnerable children across the state of Montana, no matter what the challenge. We are united in our effort to persevere and enable our children to be resilient in a very turbulent time not only for families but for communities.” – Dennis Sulser, Chief Executive Officer

“To stand strong in the face of uncertainty and to be a rock for those in the mental health field who may not be able to remain strong in their hardship. It means supporting your peers on their rough days and celebrating the little things in life that bring us all joy, especially in these hard times. It’s identifying when you need a moment and having a friend there to have your back when you need it most. #YDIStrong means having coworkers who are like family to you.” -Jessica Bonogofsky, Administrative Specialist

“#YDISTRONG is working together to provide amazing service for the youth and families we serve. It is helping each other out through the different areas and offering support to each other.” – Mandy Haller-Doris, AYA Program Manager

“Being #YDIStrong means working collaboratively across all departments to provide reliable, effective services to our clients and providing a safe, positive place for our employees to achieve this common goal. It means being there and supporting each other through this difficult time and bringing one another up and focusing on being everything we can be!” – Dawn Wilson, Executive Assistant/Facilities Manager

“#YDIStrong means persevering in the tough times, coming together to help our youth and support our teams across Montana. It means working together to help each other. Without all of us, we would not be able to move through COVID or financial cutbacks and come out of those fires unscathed. ‘Alone I cannot, together, WE CAN.'” – Kelsey Waller, Administrative Specialist

“To me being YDI Strong means working as a team to help children and their families.” – Rosie Alferez, Great Falls Lead Care Manager

“I see our agency’s strength in its actively caring and trauma-informed values. I have never seen an organization genuinely try to live out this core value. It’s great to see and experience it on a daily basis. I am truly blessed!” – Kimberly Brown, Marketing & Communications Officer

“Some days, there will be tears, fears, and disappointments. Being #YDIStrong means accepting your role as a human being, doing your best every day, taking mistakes and turning them into opportunities to improve and grow, taking pride in your accomplishments and leaning on others for support during life’s disappointments. It means remembering to stay humble and grateful as we work with youth and families who struggle, and fail, and try, and love, and cry, and succeed. We are in it together, before COVID, during COVID, and you bet we will be there after COVID. Thank you, my brothers and sisters, my team. I am grateful for you and humbled by the strength we have as a team! Stay #YDIStrong.” – Doris Higbee, Intake Coordinator

“#YDIStrong is about employees that are caring, compassionate, strong, and energetic—working together, for a better future for the youth of our communities. YDI employees are those they remember when they become adults and take the skills into their lives and their future homes. Breaking the cycle of trauma and helping them have a better tomorrow.” – Mischelle Chambers, Great Falls Area Manager

“Being #YDIStrong means pressing on to be the rock that so many people need during this difficult period. At times, it means putting our own needs aside and doing what’s best for the collective whole, approaching each of our interactions with empathy and kindness, and supporting one another through these uncertain times. And when we make mistakes, something that makes us essentially human, we take accountability, apologize, and move swiftly to rectify the situation.” – Katie Gerten, Public Relations Coordinator

“#YDIStrong means that we drop everything when we have a family or child in crisis and do what we need to support that family and child. #YDIStrong means that we work together as an amazing team with stellar communication to serve the youth and families in our communities. #YDIStrong, in the Intake Department, means that we work very closely with all of our group homes, community teams, and outside partnerships to build relationships built on trust. In the Intake Department, we want our people to know that they can rely on us, and we will work tirelessly to get their children and families served.” – Shirley Bulluck, Intake Coordinator

“To me, #YDIStrong means being resilient, flexible, compassionate, and courageous through the uncertainty of everyday challenges in today’s climate. It means being available for each other and the youth and families we serve and being a model for how our humanity can and will overcome all adversity. It’s never giving up on the hope that things will get better.” – Al Falcon, Associate Clinical Director of Substance Use Services

“A life lived for one’s self is meaningless. A life lived for others is worth fighting for.” – Michael Wren, Billings Care Manager

We are so proud of the work our staff carries out each day. Not only have they supported one another through these turbulent times, but they have also continued to push forward in our collective mission to foster resilience in vulnerable Montana youth, despite challenges they’ve faced. For our teammates who are reading, remember, alone, we are just one, but together, we are strong. #YDIStrong

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