A series of articles profiling the committed employees who work every day to strengthen YSI children and families

David Chaney is a case manager for the Runaway Youth Program (RYP) at YSI’s Youth Emergency Service teen shelter

Tell me about your role at YES

For the past six years I’ve worked with┬á teens to encourage them to learn skills that will help them develop into better problem solvers, communicators, and planners. I use a youth development approach. Relationships with parents or grandparents are key to┬áteens’ health and wellbeing. When possible I reach out to parents to help them learn problem solving, communication, and mediation skills that will support an improved relationship with their teens.

How did you get started working with youth?

Twenty three years ago I began working with at-risk youth in North Carolina, in the town of Enfield in Halifax County. I realized through this work that there were teens without solid role models and direction, and that they really wanted to do better.

Where does your passion for working with youth come from?

It comes from the heart; from wanting to give back and from watching my grandmother work with youth in her church and in the community.

Tell me about your volunteer mentoring work.

While in North Carolina I developed a mentoring program to better support the teens I was working with. I saw the impact of a teen having an adult that could guide them when other authority figures were unable to. I didn’t have an adult male role model while growing up. Through Frontline Dads I mentor youth and also work with their parents. Although our focus is on the teens, we recognize that parents need support too. Our mentoring program is unique because it provides a connection for teens and parents.

What would you tell someone who is interested in working with or mentoring youth?

There’s room for anyone who is passionate about making a difference. Give back to your community and watch the difference you can make.