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THE IDENTITY ISSUE   |   AUGUST 2021
QUARTERLY STORIES AND INSIGHTS FROM

Dear Friend,

Welcome to True + Possible, a new quarterly newsletter from TreeHouse. This collection of stories and insights was designed to help you experience how we are going after our mission to end hopelessness among teens. The name True + Possible is a nod to what we aim to show teens in everything we do at TreeHouse. As mentors, cheerleaders, and friends, we push teens to recognize the truth that they are lovable, capable, and worthwhile. That they are never alone. And that they have a future. And as leaders, guides, and coaches, we show teens the possibility of all the good they can bring to their communities. Thank you for believing in this mission, and I hope you enjoy.

Tim Clark  |  CEO

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THE IDENTITY ISSUE

DJ's Story: "It's The Best Affirmation In The World."

We want every teen to know they are lovable, capable, and worthwhile, one of the three TreeHouse Truths. Read what that truth means to someone who was deeply changed by it.

By DJ | TreeHouse Teen

TWO YEARS AGO, my best friend begged me to come to TreeHouse. I wasn’t sure, as I was extremely shy, but after a few months of thinking and convincing my mom to let me go, I agreed to come to my first ever program night at the Eagan TreeHouse. Even though others may have thought I didn't seem to need a place like TreeHouse, I wish I would have joined even sooner.

I remember the people the most. From the moment I walked through the front door, everybody was so inviting. The other teens talked with me, and the leaders welcomed me and made me feel comfortable. Although they knew nothing about me, they accepted me—even as I cried from nervousness during my first support group.

What I found at TreeHouse—the openness, the friendships, the one-on-one talks with mentors—helped me form ideas about God and myself. I grew up going to church but often felt like God was being pushed on me. At TreeHouse, I had the opportunity to hear and talk about God without any pressure. I got to make my own decision, which encouraged me to seek out a relationship with Him. Along with that, I learned I am lovable, capable, and worthwhile. At first, I thought the leaders were just saying those words without really meaning them. But after a few program nights, I realized they really do mean every word they say —and they back it up with their actions. They both show and tell us the TreeHouse truths.

I know how it feels to not have a support system, so I want to make it my mission to support others.

Today, I know I am lovable, capable, and worthwhile. And believing this about myself has impacted a lot of my relationships. When I started going to TreeHouse, my dad and I weren’t very close at all. I spent a lot of time talking with TreeHouse staff about family and relationships, and I learned how to have healthy boundaries and expectations—because I’m worth it. Now, I live with my dad and consider him one of my best friends. We talk all the time, go out for coffee, and even play basketball sometimes. He is a big fan of TreeHouse because he can see a difference in me. 

I’m not as quiet as I used to be, and I’m more optimistic about life. I also know how it feels to not have a support system, so I want to make it my mission to support others. I tell friends, inside and outside TreeHouse, that they are lovable—loved by me and so many others. I tell them they are capable—that they can push through even the darkest moments. And I tell them they are worthwhile—that they were born on this earth for a reason. I remember what I experienced when I first started at TreeHouse, and I want others to feel just as special and supported. I want everyone to know they are lovable, capable, and worthwhile, because it's the best affirmation in the world.

DJ is a sophomore at Burnsville High School and has been attending the Eagan TreeHouse for the past two years. Her favorite thing to do with her mentor, Cami, is eat chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A.

Why We’ll Never Stop Thinking About Schools

Since its founding, TreeHouse has worked in and with schools to support teens experiencing hopelessness. Read about the ways we strive to continue that legacy every day.

IMAGINE YOU'RE A high-school student. On a school day, you leave a turbulent home and board a bus full of the same bullies who will torment you in the halls as you walk to class. Now, after all that, imagine you have to memorize the periodic table of elements. 


At TreeHouse, we meet teens like this every day. Teens who can’t begin to focus on academics because their lives before and after school already seem like too much to handle. Teachers want to help, but they have classrooms of students to teach. Counselors want to help, but they often don’t have time to truly understand the complexities of what teens are dealing with. In every school we’ve ever encountered, we’ve seen a need for something more. Something to end the hopelessness that proves detrimental to students. We believe TreeHouse can be part of the answer.


A commitment to serving schools and helping teens succeed there is part of TreeHouse’s DNA. TreeHouse was founded because a middle school teacher saw teens struggling—falling behind in classes, getting into trouble, and even failing to graduate. He met with local principals and asked how he could help change that story. Today, this legacy continues as we strive to end hopelessness among teens, and we still see their success at school as part of that process. 

In all these efforts and more, TreeHouse works to show teens the truth of who God created them to be.

Two of our eight goals for every TreeHouse teen are that they graduate high school and engage in an educational or career path after high school. Sometimes, our work with schools looks like a TreeHouse mentor shooting hoops with a teen who needs to take a breather during an especially tough class. Other times, it looks like TreeHouse support groups held inside a school or counselors referring teens to support groups at local TreeHouse sites. During virtual school last year, multiple sites started socially-distanced study halls so teens could support one another in the same physical space. In all these efforts and more, TreeHouse works to show teens the truth of who God created them to be.


When teens grow internally, accepting the truth that they are lovable, capable, and worthwhile, they succeed externally, graduating high school and forming college or career plans. And when teens succeed, so do the communities around them. On average, 80 percent of TreeHouse teens graduate high school and 75 percent form a post-graduation plan. Those numbers are a testament to the value of TreeHouse for both teens and their schools, showing that when hopelessness ends, untold potential is unleashed. 


Marcus Peterson serves as the Vice President of Outreach and has been a part of TreeHouse since he started as a Youth Outreach Associate 14 years ago. He is committed to growing the TreeHouse network of impact and spreading the mission to end hopelessness among teens to more communities nationwide.

Honoring Pain While Encouraging Hope

Ending hopelessness among teens requires compassion and intention. Read insights from a TreeHouse veteran about how to achieve this delicate balance.

AT TREEHOUSE, WE have the privilege of walking with teens through tough circumstances, listening as they share stories of trauma and pain. And yet, our mission is to untangle the knot of hopelessness. It is a difficult balance to achieve—honoring pain while encouraging hope—but it is part of the everyday work at TreeHouse. 


So, how do we do it? We show respect for teens' stories and circumstances, and that starts by allowing space for feelings. Teens need to process their circumstances at their own pace, so it’s unhelpful to put a timeline on grief or anger. We build trust with teens as we listen, learn, and talk about the things the teen wants to talk about. Maybe it’s friendships or family dynamics. Or maybe it’s video games, anime, and manga. Regardless, we engage with teens about topics that matter to them. 

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or caring adult, being a mentor is challenging, but it's worth it. 

Once we earn the right to be heard, we can share words of hope and direction when teens need to hear them. TreeHouse mentors navigate every teen interaction with intention, prayerfully discerning how each specific teen needs to hear a message of hope. Enabled by that intention, mentors speak truth into teens, continuing the steady process of ending hopelessness.


The TreeHouse model is research-based, mental-health informed, and easy enough that anyone seeking to serve teens can practice it. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or caring adult, being a mentor is challenging, but it's worth it. 


As mentors listen, many of us feel tempted to propose solutions to teens rather than empathizing with them. Saying “you should” might feel a lot easier than saying “that’s really hard,” but at TreeHouse, we have found that making the choice to listen and support—even when it’s easier to speak and instruct—can help a mentor more effectively understand a teen’s feelings and empower teens to gain wisdom.

Anyone can seek to honor pain while also encouraging hope.

Too often, well-intentioned adults talk over teens, thinking their experience and insight helps them know what’s best. But mentors benefit their mentees by realizing they are not there to change teens’ circumstances; they are there to help teens cope. Even the most capable problem-solvers cannot “fix” teens. Rather, you can give teens a chance to address their feelings and remind them they are not alone.  


Over the years, we have seen the power of mentors approaching teens with grace, listening without judgment, and intentionally providing direction. Whether it’s being the coach who encourages them, the pastor who prays with them, or the parent who offers a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, anyone can seek to honor pain while also encouraging hope. When you and I succeed in that balance, teens begin to see themselves as who they truly are—as they were created to be.


Scott Volltrauer has worked at TreeHouse as a mentor, leader, and coach for the past 31 years. Currently, he serves as a Partner Network Training Manager, equipping TreeHouse partners across the United States to help end hopelessness among teens.


MILESTONES TO CELEBRATE

NEWS + UPDATES

We work every day to serve more teens in more communities. Read these brief stories of success about how that work gets done. 

SEPTEMBER 17

Join us for the 18th annual Women of Hope Luncheon, featuring keynote speaker Jo Saxton, an author and leadership coach.

AUGUST 17

TreeHouse staff spent the day independently centering themselves around Jesus during an organization-wide JAM (Jesus and Me) day.

AUGUST 4

Leaders at the Eden Prairie TreeHouse partnered with JSAW, a local action-sports ministry, to plan outings for teens.

JULY 19

Teens at the Minnetonka TreeHouse enjoyed a wilderness retreat at Camp Shamineau in Motley, MN.

JULY 14

144 golfers participated in the 35th annual Golf for Hope event, funding summer programs for TreeHouse sites across the country.

JUNE

23 TreeHouse communities logged 29,346 miles to raise more than $250,000 during the Path to Hope virtual fundraiser.

SEPTEMBER 17

Join us for the 18th annual Women of Hope Luncheon, featuring keynote speaker Jo Saxton, an author and leadership coach.

AUGUST 17

TreeHouse staff spent the day independently centering themselves around Jesus during an organization-wide JAM (Jesus and Me) day.

AUGUST 4

Leaders at the Eden Prairie TreeHouse partnered with JSAW, a local action-sports ministry, to plan outings for teens.

JULY 19

Teens at the Minnetonka TreeHouse enjoyed a wilderness retreat at Camp Shamineau in Motley, MN.

JULY 14

144 golfers participated in the 35th annual Golf for Hope event, funding summer programs for TreeHouse sites across the country.

JUNE

23 TreeHouse communities logged 29,346 miles to raise more than $250,000 during the Path to Hope virtual fundraiser.

SEPTEMBER 17

Join us for the 18th annual Women of Hope Luncheon, featuring keynote speaker Jo Saxton, an author and leadership coach.

AUGUST 17

All 70 staff members spent the day independently centering themselves around Jesus during an organization-wide JAM (Jesus and Me) day, continuing a decades-old TreeHouse tradition.

AUGUST 4

Leaders at the Eden Prairie TreeHouse partnered with JSAW, a local action-sports ministry, to plan outings for teens.

JULY 19

Teens at the Minnetonka TreeHouse enjoyed a wilderness retreat at Camp Shamineau in Motley, MN.

JULY 14

144 golfers participated in the 35th annual Golf for Hope event, funding summer programs for TreeHouse sites across the country.

JUNE

23 TreeHouse communities logged 29,346 miles to raise more than $250,000 during the Path to Hope virtual fundraiser.