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Family Resource, Youth Service Center: The Invisible Helping Hand
In each of the schools in Anderson County there is an office, prominent in some and tucked back in others, called the Family Resource, Youth Service Center (FRYSC for short). Most of the offices are marked by racks of colorful coats, cabinets of art supplies, baskets of stress balls and fidget toys, and the like. Their motto is “Whatever it takes”-- a motto lived in the flesh by the FRYSC coordinators who put unwavering effort into ensuring the families and students in our community have access to the resources they need to be self-sufficient and strong. As a result, the best way to describe our FRYSCs is as “Jacks of all trades.”

Mr. Travis Harley, Director of Student Services, views the role of the FRYSC as a conduit between the community and the school. Since the help needed by families in the community can take the shape of many things, our FRYSCs help with everything from financial needs, to food insecurities, to resources linking people to doctor/vision/dental help, to connecting with daycares and other community agencies in order to help families. They even help students with clothes and shoes when needed. For one family who needed a washing machine, they scoured the internet and resources until they found one that could be donated to the family. No matter how large or small the need is, each one of those necessities can easily affect a child’s ability to learn and engage with lessons during a school day.

But the FRYSC coordinators do what they can to help the inner child as well. Since most of the coordinators come from a social work background, they often work closely with guidance counselors to help guide both children and their families to deal with other life-changing challenges like divorce, death in the family, friendship issues, and mentoring in both academics and character education. Ultimately, the FRYSCs want to be a comfort to our families-- for parents to know that there is someone else here to help. As such, Anderson County FRYSCs have formed groups to help our students learn to cope with various situations. In addition to the situations previously mentioned, they also lead hygiene classes, an anxiety group, and a KRUSH group (Kids Rising Up through Support and Healing) for students with incarcerated loved ones.

One small action that the FRYSC take to help all students, regardless of the situation, is their “Handle With Care” system. If something has happened at home (from something as large as a move to as small as being grounded from electronics) and you feel your child is needing a bit of extra support in school the next day, you can text your school FRYSC the message “Handle with Care” with no further details required. As adults we know that even when one small thing is off about our day, the tone of the entire day can be altered; so too with children. If our FRYSCs know that someone is happening in your child’s life that could alter his or her day, they can check on your child and show some extra grace.

Even if your family or student is not in need of one of the needs mentioned, Crystal Crouch (FRYSC at Robert B. Turner and Saffell Street Elementary) and Sarah McGuaghey (FRYSC at Emma B. Ward Elementary and Ezra Sparrow Early Childhood Center) want to urge you to make it a point to follow their Facebook Page-- Anderson County FRYSC; they make every attempt to push out everything going on in our community: when scholarships are due, ACT test dates, community egg hunts, healthy recipes and information about nutrition, and even topics to discuss at the dinner table. Our FRYSCs also urge you to call them even if you just have a question and don’t know to whom to direct it, if you’d like to have someone attend an IEP or 504 meeting with you, or even if you need help getting your child to a doctor’s appointment. And you can rest assured in contacting them that your information will be kept confidential.

As a result of the confidential nature of their interaction with families and students, our FRYSC deserve much more support and recognition than they receive because most people have no idea the many hats our FRYSC wear. Additionally, all of the individuals who are in this position want to DO the action of providing help and do not want to SHOW how they are helping; their job is to empower families rather than to do things publicly that get themselves a pat on the back, yet at the same time they depend on public support to continue to do the good work they do day in and day out. Their impact has long-reaching implications for the well-being of all children in our community age birth to when they graduate from high school.

If you have any items that you are interested in donating to a family or child in need, please contact a FRYSC coordinator and they will try to connect your donation with a family who needs it whether that be in the form of gently used shoes, helping with a grocery or utility bill, covering past-due student lunch accounts, or donating used appliances. Alternatively, if your family needs help, please contact your school’s FRYSC directly via phone or email at one of the following numbers:

Clay Birdwhistell - Anderson County High School Bearcat Youth Service Center Coordinator
Office: 502-839-5118 Cell: 502-517-6752
[email protected]

Crystal Crouch - Robert B. Turner and Saffell Street Elementary Family Resource Center Coordinator
Office: 502-839-2500 @ RBT Cell:502-604-5390
Office: 502-839-3565 @ SSE Cell:502-604-5390
[email protected]

Beckey Johnson - Anderson County Middle School Youth Service Center Coordinator
Office: 502-839-9261 Cell: 502-604-8200
[email protected]

Sarah McGaughey - Ezra Sparrow Early Childhood Center and Emma B. Ward Family Youth Resource Center Coordinator
Office: 502-839-4236 @ EBW Cell: 502-604-8201
Office: 502-839-2504 @ ECC Cell: 502-604-8201
[email protected]

Pictured left to right: Beckey Johnson, Travis Harley, Sarah McGaughey, Crystal Crouch. Absent: Clay Birdwhistell