Mary Ruth Branstetter, LCSW, LCAC, RPT, Youth First Social Worker at St. Joe Catholic School and St. Wendel Catholic School

Mary Ruth is one of Youth First’s veteran social workers. She says, “Many years ago I had the opportunity to work with Youth First founder Dr. William Wooten on the Addictions Unit at Mulberry Center. His care, concern and compassion for the youth of our community as well as their families was contagious. Substance abuse, various addictions and the impact on children/teens is very near and dear to my own heart.

I have personally been very fortunate to have been placed in school settings where the principals and staff were strong advocates for YF’s services. This has given me the opportunity to work with some amazing kids, families, co-workers and community resources. It is amazing to see what can happen when kids and families have their needs met by the right people at the right time. We do still live in an age of miracles. We have a strong staff and Board of Directors that are committed to carrying on the ethical and compassionate work Youth First was founded on.

To say this year has been very challenging is an understatement! COVID-19 has created a challenging and different work environment for all of us. This may seem very trivial, but one of my little ones made me a homemade Valentine Card. It had a picture of my sand tray on it and said I was ‘very good at helping people,’ and the part that made me cry when I was alone was the face they drew with hearts for eyes…So even with a mask on, kids know when someone cares about them and their world.”