Second Stories show

Second Stories

Summary: Everyone dreams about how they want their life to look, but not everyone has the same level of opportunity to fulfill these dreams. Some of us grow up in loving families with solid support systems, while some of us are born into hardship and trauma. None of us can choose the life we’re born into; none of us can write our own first story. These situations might place us at a disadvantage, but they do not doom us. And sometimes a person or an experience helps bring the future we dreamed of into reach. It lets us pick up the pen and write our own second story.

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 Kelsey | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2406

Kelsey’s story has some of the lowest lows we’ve heard yet as well as one of the most relatable closings, and it’s made all the more affecting by the way she’s able to reflect on her situation and the situations of other youth like her. We finish our time together talking about homelessness, Second Story’s work, and what goes unnoticed and unsaid about youth in crisis, and it’s a conversation you can’t afford to miss with someone who knows all-too-deeply what she’s talking about. If you've enjoyed this season, we hope you will join us for our second Beacon of Hope Virtual Fundraiser on October 26th at 12:30 pm. Learn more and register at Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Topical Episode: Edwin & Empowerment | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1426

For the last installment of this season’s topical discussion on values we’re talking about empowerment. In addition to meeting basic needs, Second Story's programs seek to empower youth and families to know their rights, to know what opportunities are available to them as well as what support they can access if they need help again in the future, and to know how to advocate for themselves. Today we speak to Edwin, Community Organizer for Second Story in the Community, about how this really looks. Edwin talks to us about what effective outreach can look like, his hopes for the neighborhood he serves, and the impact that empowerment can have on the life of a young person. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Topical Episode: Cathy & Mental Health | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1699

A 2021 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation uncovered some especially alarming news about mental health. 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder, and 31% of parents reported that their child’s emotional or mental health worsened during the pandemic. At Second Story we believe that emotional, physical, and mental wellness are all connected, and thus focusing on mental wellbeing when working with young people is crucial. Today we’re speaking to Cathy, Second Story’s new Vice President of Residential Services and Senior Therapist about how this really looks in our programs. And she offers us a very welcome bit of good news: because even while overall mental health as suffered as a result of COVID, the increased awareness around mental wellness is changing our communities for the better. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Topical Episode: Judith & Equity | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1447

For the first of our topical episodes this season we’re speaking again to our CEO, Judith Dittman, about equity. Judith is the first to say that she’s not the right person to talk to about experiencing inequities – she's a white, middle-class woman with a stable job. In fact, she’s been with us for more than two decades. But this, her leadership role at Second Story, is the reason why she’s one of the right people to talk to about combatting inequity. She’s been at the forefront of supporting youth through our work, and she’s served on many policy committees and groups working to create a more equitable society. Through other episodes this season, as we always do, we’ll hear the personal side as well – stories from people who’ve experienced this firsthand. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Daniel | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2040

Daniel was a basketball star. One of the best in Virginia during his high school years, in fact. He received a scholarship to play in college and he remembers all the hard work he had to put in. He was living the dream of many younger kids on the court, but behind the scenes, when he left practice for the night, things weren’t so shiny. Throughout many of those years he experienced homelessness, he couch-surfed, he wasn’t sure where his next meal would come from. He started to understand the appeal of drugs, of gangs, but his love for basketball kept him focused, and ultimately brought him the community he needed to thrive, to find safety and stability. Now an adult, Daniel lives and works in close proximity to Second Story. Years later he still remembers feeling unloved, feeling ashamed, feeling alone, and he’s committed to ensuring other youth don’t have to feel the same way he did. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Season 4 Introduction | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 192

We're excited to bring you a fourth season of Second Stories with new episodes through the month of September! We'll be hearing from members of the Second Story team on three of the values that drive our mission - equity, mental wellness, and empowerment - as well as two stories of people in our community.  Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at 

 COVID-19: Meghan (VP of Residential Services) and Youth Homelessness | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2131

In this episode we talk with Meghan Huebner, Second Story's Vice President of Residential Services. Meghan talks about some of the unique challenges for youth and families experiencing homeless during the pandemic and how Second Story has been able to safely support the youth in our programs as well as find new opportunities to reach youth who need help. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Jimena | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2120

Jimena experienced homelessness for a long and exhausting five years. Her situation made her eligible for more than one of our programs – she was a teenager, a young mom, largely abandoned by her family, floating in and out of increasingly risky situations because of her desperation. Yet Jimena is one of the many youth who was not able to find help through Second Story or another like ours, for some of the unfortunately usual reasons: she didn’t know what was available to her, and she was burdened by shame and embarrassment. Jimena shares her story with a rawness and vulnerability that gives us a peek into what it’s like to be in her position, and she reflects with a rare clarity on how those years felt and how they have impacted her as a woman and a mother. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 COVID-19: Nandred (VP of Community-Based Services) and Vulnerable Communities | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1787

In this episode we’re speaking to Nandred, Second Story’s Vice President of Community Based programs. She leads Second Story’s efforts in our broader community. When we talk about the “most vulnerable” in our communities, we are often referring to many families we serve through these programs. They struggle with poverty and disconnection, human trafficking and gang violence, poor living conditions, and a lack of access to many of the services that the rest of us take for granted. Nandred tells us about the unique needs of these communities, why COVID-19 has been especially challenging for them, and what we're doing to help. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 COVID-19: Cathy Benn (Senior Therapist) and Mental Health | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1532

In this episode, we’re speaking with Cathy,  Second Story’s Senior Therapist. She leads Second Story’s counseling and mental health evaluations, working both to support staff and implement best practices and also one-on-one with youth struggling with their mental health. She talks to us about the relationship between COVID-19 and mental health and why this has been an especially challenging time for the young people we serve. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Topical Episode: Youth Disconnection & Foster Care | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1886

Anne Kim is a journalist, author, and fountain of wisdom and insight on youth issues. Her book Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection explores a sobering reality: that nearly five million young people, nearly 12 percent of youth aged sixteen to twenty-four, experience disconnection and abandonment as they enter adulthood. Anne educates us on the causes and consequences of this reality, especially in light of the ways our economy and society is changing right now, and helps us understand what we can do about it. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 Caitlin | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2106

Caitlin grew up without the family structure a lot of us take for granted, entering the foster care system as a preteen and juggling between families throughout her teenage years until she was emancipated at 18. Yet Caitlin is not one to focus on what she didn’t have but rather what she did: ingenuity, independence, and outright intelligence. Her story sheds light on an important group: teenagers in foster care and otherwise disconnected youth, and she introduces us to all that these young people have many times endured and also all that they have to offer us. Second Stories is created and produced by Second Story. Learn more about us at

 COVID-19: Judith Dittman (CEO) and Second Story’s Response | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1443

We’re starting off this season with a special episode about COVID-19 and its impact on our work and young people in our community. We begin with Judith, Second Story’s CEO, to talk about how the pandemic has affected our work. As Second Story’s primary decisionmaker and leader, Judith gives us a bird’s eye view of how COVID-19 has both impacted Second Story overall and, more broadly, the youth who seek services like ours both in our community and beyond.  To hear more about how you can support Second Story’s COVID-19 needs visit

 Season 3 Introduction | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 155

Introducing Second Stories season three! Season three of Second Stories brings you more stories from youth in our community as well as a focus on some of the important issues that put young people in vulnerable positions - things like homelessness, abuse, and mental health challenges. We’ll also be digging into how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting youth in crisis through conversations with staff and other experts in the field. Our seven-episode season will begin on August 12th with new episodes released each Wednesday.

 Renée | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1897

Renée has a law degree, a master's degree, and a PhD.  She also was born into poverty. She was a single parent. She was abused. She was a college dropout.  We see in her a world changer as much as we see her early disadvantages, and in that we are hopeful, we are even more resolved that regardless of a young person’s challenges, with the right kind of intervention, they truly can do anything If you’ve been inspired by the stories this season and want to make a difference, we invite you to donate to Second Story.  Visit to contribute.


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