Bremen Youth Services Helping One Heart at a Time

Since its inception in 1964, Bremen Youth Services (formerly Bremen Township Committee on Youth) has been providing quality social services to local youngsters and their families through a variety of programs revolving around counseling and related supportive efforts. All of these efforts were always geared at attempting to establish a safe and nurturing environment in which all of our clients would be encouraged to deal with and overcome whatever difficulties they were experiencing in their lives and then to not only realize their potential for becoming the best person they could be and transform that potential into concrete reality, but also to “pay it forward” by becoming involved in helping other younger newer clients through that process. We called this concept the “Bremen Family” and thousands and thousands of young people and their own families have become members of this incredible supportive network over the past 55 years. Obviously, many of these young people have become old people over that period of time (myself included), and it has not been uncommon to see three generations of individual families going through the process and staying involved in BYS efforts and programs over the years. All of these wonderful people proved over and over again that the Bremen Family “concept” had become a living, beautiful reality. The incredible number of Bremen Family alumni that are now themselves working in helping professions is an overwhelming testament to the success that has been realized by the loving, caring and ongoing efforts of our dedicated staff.

However, as most of you are aware, the past few years have been very difficult ones for BYS. I could very easily get into a lot of negative details surrounding the events that have brought us to the point we are at right now, but that would be pointless and very much not in keeping with what our agency has always been all about. Suffice it to say that we have fought as strong of a battle as we could in our attempt to keep the agency afloat during these difficult times, but, unfortunately, those efforts have turned out to be not enough. Our summer day camp program, the crown jewel of BYS programs for the past 35 years, as been operating at Arbor Park School in Oak Forest last summer and again this year. Tomorrow, July 24th, will be the final day of this year’s day camp. Sadly, barring a miracle, it also appears that it is going to be the last day of Bremen Youth Services as an agency.

I am very proud of what Bremen has accomplished over the 55 years of its existence, particularly so of the past 47 years that I have been honored and privileged to serve as its director. I truly believe I have been tremendously blessed to have been put here by the Main Upstairs. A job is really not a job if you truly love what you do. If that is true, I guess I have been “unemployed” for almost 50 years. I have been told that I have touched a lot of lives in positive ways over the years. While that may be true, the flip side of that is that all of those lives have touched my heart and enriched me beyond measure. I wish I could thank all of those people personally and tell them how much I love them and how much they have meant and continue to mean to me.

This may be a sad time, but it is also a time for remembering and celebrating the vast number of incredible personal victories that we have seen our kids achieve over the year, many times overcoming tremendous obstacles and hardships in the process. That is truly the legacy of Bremen Youth Services and what everyone involved with its operation is most proud of.

Don Sebak, 15350 S. Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest, IL 60452.