Youth Villages stories
Rebuilding during COVID-19
Taylor and Tony Barnes are two Youth Villages employees from Cookeville, Tennessee, who married in August. Taylor is a family intervention specialist, and Tony is a LifeSet specialist. They looked forward to starting their lives together, until they lost everything as devastating tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee.
“The roof was torn off, and all of our belongings were on the top floor of the house,” Taylor said. “Tony and I both lost our vehicles as well.”
Being displaced is always a challenge, but it is even more worrisome when you do not have a home in which to “shelter in place” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is overwhelming at times to be managing these two crises back-to-back, but then I think about how blessed we are to both be able to continue to work during this time when so many others cannot,” Taylor said. “I think about my Youth Villages families, who still need my support, and I am so thankful for the technology that exists today that allows me to still be there for them.”
The couple is staying with Taylor’s sister until they can rebuild, and they have replaced Tony’s car. Taylor is still without a vehicle due to backed-up insurance claims.
“At first, we worried about both of us not having a car and both of us completing our [counseling] sessions each week,” Taylor said. “But it has worked out since we are both working from home using Telehealth to conduct our sessions.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Youth Villages has adapted a number of protocols to continue providing services to families. The most important has been ensuring proper technology is accessible by all families and staff.
Taylor treats a Telehealth session the same as if it were an in-person visit. She still conducts safety checks with her families and focuses on completing treatment objectives.
“It is also important to check on how the family is doing,” Taylor said. “I make time in each session to see how they are managing during the health pandemic.”
Taylor and Tony continue to help our children, families and young people, even after suffering a personal tragedy.
“If I have learned anything about Youth Villages during this time it is that we are all practicing our core values every single day, regardless of any difficulties we might face,” Taylor said. “We make sure ‘kids’ needs come first, always’ and ‘we are committed to our staff.’”