Inside TreeHouse - June 2016

Julie Nelson

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

“I’ve heard ‘I love you’ my whole life. From family, from friends, from all the people closest to me—all of whom were unconditionally there to support me. So it completely shocked me visiting a TreeHouse Support Group when I grasped how many kids not only had never heard that before, but were actively told by the people most important to them that they don’t matter and that they’re a burden.

I was first introduced to TreeHouse when they asked me to emcee at their annual gala several years ago. I get asked to emcee at a lot of things, but I was so moved by the stories of teens who, before TreeHouse, had felt completely invisible, that this organization immediately had my heart. Even so, the first time I visited a TreeHouse Support Group was a real education for me. I watched teens sitting around in a circle talk about cutting themselves, marking milestones since they had stopped: 4 weeks without it, 7 days without. I was absolutely dumbfounded; I didn’t even know cutting existed, much less how prevalent it was.

I have a 12 year old and a 14 year old myself. They’re at an age where they feel everything so deeply—and they’re faced with decisions constantly. I can get really anxious thinking about all that kids this age are dealing with and the mistakes they can make. I imagine how confusing those critical crossroads must be to kids with no stable adult role model in their lives. But at TreeHouse, instead of once again hearing they’re on their own and they have to figure out their problems by themselves—or, even worse, that they are a burden—these teens hear they’re not alone and that they’re loved. They learn that there’s grace for them—and, guess what, that grace is free. TreeHouse doesn’t run away from them—and I’ve seen their whole demeanor transform when they realize that.

Some of my favorite memories at TreeHouse were when I helped launch and emcee the first two TreeHouse Grad Parties last year and the year prior. The teens were so proud of what they’d accomplished—and we were so proud of them. Graduating high school is something most TreeHouse teens never thought they could do. Since so many of them don’t get a graduation party at home, it’s so special to get to honor them and celebrate the milestone with them at TreeHouse. I’m so glad the tradition will continue this year.

—Julie Nelson, TreeHouse Board Member

CLICK HERE to learn how you can be part of throwing this year's graduating seniors a TreeHouse Grad Party.