Julie Oliver, advocate for Therapy Place Inc., a subcontractor of Children’s Square

Q: How long have you been working in the field and how long have you been an advocate in Aftercare. A: I have been working in the field of helping youth on a part time basis since 1997. I have been a part time Aftercare Advocate through Therapy Place/Children’s Square since 2007.

Q: What made you decide to become an Advocate? A: My sister was one of the first advocates, and still is. Her name is Joni Griffin. She is wonderful and I always admired her work and everything about her. She was/does really make a difference in these kids’ lives! When I earned my degree in Psychology, I applied and began giving to these youth too!

Q: What keeps you motivated or excited about working with youth? A: It motivates me to see a youth achieve a goal, or even just one action step. I really try to compliment and lift them up with each accomplishment, even if they just made a phone call on their own behalf, and I see the look in their eyes, like “I can really do this … I’m going to be okay!” Sometimes they think I’m a bit goofy for congratulating them on that accomplishment, and we laugh about it, but still … the look is there.

Q: What is your favorite part about being an advocate or favorite memory? A: One of my favorite memories of being an Advocate is when I attended one of my youth’s college graduations out of town. He was so proud of himself and excited to see me there. My son and I sat with his family, and they cried and cheered, and my 11-year-old son and I cheered and yelled right alongside of them! Another emotional memory with the same youth (not a favorite), was when he got himself a puppy – the first pet he ever owned. It made him so happy and he was so sweet and gentle with this little doggie. Then his puppy got hit by a car and died. He called me crying, and I cried with him. We had a long discussion about our thoughts on Heaven. So emotional!

Q: Do you have a success story/or challenging story you would like to share? A: One of the youth that I served (different from above), graduated college with a Human Services degree, and is now an Aftercare Advocate! Love her! She’s so awesome! She has gotten married and is considering starting a family. She’s going to be a wonderful mother, even though she faced such turmoil with her own family. I just know it!