What does success look like?

At Palmetto Place we celebrate the successes, the birthdays and graduations, the milestones reached and goals accomplished. Today our Project Coordinator, Grace talks about what success looks like for our kids.


"At Palmetto Place I work closely with the foundations and organizations that support us financially. All too often in grant reports or applications I come across the question, “What does success look like?”

Honestly, I hate this question. I hate it because I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know how to answer because for the kids I work with success isn’t black and white.

I wish I could say, “Success is transitioning each kid into independent living once they’ve become self-sufficient.” But I can’t, because not every kid is looking for independent living. Or maybe saying, “Success is graduating from high school in 4 years.” But again, that’s not every teens goal. So, I tell them the truth -  the unquantified, unmeasurable truth: “Success is different for each one of our kids.”

A group session in Ms. Joy's office. 

A group session in Ms. Joy's office. 

Because kids come to us at different points in their lives with unique needs and goals, we can’t use a one size fits all definition for success. Some kids come to us at 16 and their goals are to graduate from high school and go to college. But others come to us at 20 and need help finding gainful employment and affordable housing. Some come to us because their home is not safe and others because they have no home to go to. No matter their needs we help them create a plan for meeting them and reaching their goals. We celebrate the small successes that help them get there every step along the way.

Last week during one of Ms. Joy’s group counseling sessions we celebrated a small success: A teen opened up for the first time, shared his story and began the healing process.

Mason has lived with us for more than six months. Ms. Joy does weekly group sessions but he has never attended on his own. The few times we were able to convince him to attend, he was silent. But last week he decided he wanted to come. Ms. Joy talked about grief that day, the different stages and strategies for dealing with it in a positive manner. Mason has experienced more loss than most kids his age, more loss than some adults. This day he opened up and talked about his experiences and how grief has affected him. For Mason, being able to open up is a huge success and today we celebrate his journey to get here."


Success is not black and white, it’s not always measureable and can’t always be described in numbers. Sometimes success is feeling or overcoming emotions. Sometimes it’s opening up to those who are there to help you. One thing is certain, success is different for each one of our kids.

Grace Bennett