JJAB Marks Record Year Assisting Local Youth And Families

JJAB Executive Director Lisa Zuhn at a visit Wednesday at Ashley Pond Park. Photo by Jenn Bartram/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos Daily Post

Life isn’t easy – no matter a person’s age. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and the difficulties can exacerbate. Luckily for Los Alamos, JJAB assists those in need no matter the obstacles.

“Our word for last year was pivot,” JJAB Executive Director Lisa Zuhn said.

During the last year JJAB juggled from operating its programs in person to remote and then to hybrid, she said, adding that now they are ready to return to work with their clients face-to-face.

“For the majority of our programs we are ready to go back to in person,” Zuhn said.

Regardless of format, JJAB continued its programs during FY20 and FY21 and in some cases, served more individuals, as stated in the nonprofit organization’s FY21 review. JJAB resource specialists assisted 274 youth in FY21 compared to 231 youth in FY20. The number of families impacted by resource specialists totaled 797 in FY21 compared to 711 in FY20.

During its pivotal year, JJAB also provided its other programs including Community Conversations, Restorative Justice, One Circle, Imagination Library, Youth Mental First Aid trainings and more.

Los Alamos County Councilor Sara Scott is the council liaison to JJAB and shared what she learned about the organization during a recent board meeting.

“The board was provided an overview of JJAB programs and initiatives and we heard about the ways that thousands of youths and families have been served,” Scott said. “We are so fortunate to have these resources provided by such dedicated and knowledgeable staff. The staff and the Board have, and will continue to have a significant positive impact on our community. I am impressed that they will also be proactively engaging the community to identify emerging needs as well as ideas for how to address these needs through future services.”

Zuhn said it is important to continue these programs because mental health is an issue that never ceases.

“There is always an ongoing challenge, which is the mental health of our youth and our community,” she said.

JJAB not only continues its programs but offers a wide variety of services, Board Chair Nicolѐ Raddu Ferry said.

“JJAB has expanded the focus of its resources from supporting adjudicated youth to expanding services for all youth and families to reach their desired potential,” Raddu Ferry said. “JJAB offers many different resources in the form of education, community building groups, supporting families in being the best families they can be, and encouraging the youth of Los Alamos in many different ways.”

Zuhn added that part of JJAB’s success in providing assistance to those in need is “our ability to be flexible.” JJAB also benefits greatly from its dedicated staff and supportive board, she said.

“We get such great support from our Board of Directors …” Zuhn said.

JJAB has partnerships with many organizations in the community such as Los Alamos Public Schools, Family Strengths Network and the Los Alamos Teen Center, she said. As an example, the father of a teenager asked Teen Center Director George Marsden for guidance and support and in response, Marsden brought the idea of creating a support group for fathers with teenagers to JJAB. JJAB embraced the idea and created that support group.

“When there’s a need we are able to step in and help,” Zuhn said.

Raddu Ferry agreed.

“JJAB is filled with an expansive network of many community members, parent representatives, resource specialists, educators, first responders, court representatives and others who believe in the success of our youth and their families,” she said. “This diverse network creates a circle of community that is very life-giving. Lisa Zuhn’s leadership has allowed us to expand and grow in a new world to meet the needs that are current.”

JJAB’s successes are evident in the feedback it receives from students participating in its programs.

“We get youth who come back and say the resource specialist helped them,” Zuhn said. “…I think they feel connected … it just takes having that one supportive adult in a youth’s life to really make an impact for them.”

JJAB formed in 2004, Zuhn said, as an agreement between the schools and Los Alamos County to help struggling students. JJAB became a nonprofit in 2007 and now serves children ages 5-18 years old who live in Los Alamos or attend Los Alamos Public Schools.

While the organization does receive funding through a Los Alamos County contract, Zuhn explained that this does not cover all of the expenses incurred from services JJAB provides.

To help support JJAB, Zuhn said individual donations are appreciated.

Help is accepted in other ways, too, Raddu Ferry said.

“The community can offer their time, talents, and financial resources to allow this organization to continue,” she said. “The community can also live into the reality that all youth, all families at one time or another will need support to be the best they can be. Margaret J. Wheatley noted: ‘There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.’ Our youth and families are worth caring about.”

Zuhn expresses optimism when looking to JJAB’s future.

“I’m so excited for our organization and where we are heading … we’re just excited to continue to meet the needs in the community,” she said.

For more information about JJAB, call 505.709.8125 or visit https://www.losalamosjjab.com/.


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