Last month, Director Liz Klohmann celebrated her 23rd anniversary with the Ithaca Youth Bureau! Her time with the YB started long before this, however, in 1983 as a Fieldwork student from Ithaca College working with Therapeutic Recreation (now known as Recreation Support Services). She has worked with many other organizations in the community and in her time at the Youth Bureau, she has held many different titles, with her most current being Director, a position she has had since 2013.
Throughout Liz’s time here, the Youth Bureau has changed in many ways. The original building was nicknamed the Tin Can and was a former Naval Reserve Training Center. In 1986 it was torn down and replaced with a new Youth Bureau building. Programming has also changed and evolved in order to continuously provide support and services to the Ithaca community. “You will see this pattern of changing to meet needs and be a relevant resource to youth, families, and other organizations in just about every program offered at the Youth Bureau” states Liz. One thing that hasn’t changed in her time here, however, is “the creative, resourceful, and caring staff. We have had new faces join our team over the years as others have retired or moved onto other opportunities but the care and commitment to young people and the community that staff bring has stayed constant.”
When asked about a memorable experience, Liz shared this, “One of my favorite stories is when Kim Olsen, our Outings Program Coordinator came to my office door late one afternoon after a program and said, ‘Liz! I have to tell someone, I just taught my first person ever how to ride a bike! She is a 5th grader who has never ridden a bike and I just taught her how and she is so excited and so am I! I just had to tell someone!’ This is just one of many shared successes that I hear about at the YB.”
Liz is passionate about the Youth Bureau and hopes others are too because “we play a vital role in the health and wellness of the community and the development of our children.” The YB’s tagline of Building a Foundation for a Lifetime sums up the missions and variety of programs perfectly. “Youth Programming offers children and youth opportunities to learn new skills, develop relationships with others, experience success and failure, be nurtured, go places and see things they may not have had the opportunity to, learn about themselves, the world and others.”
When a few YB staff members were asked what they enjoyed about working with Liz, they said:
“One thing I appreciate about Liz is how calmly she listens and responds, even when the situation does not feel calm at all!” – Ever Stokes, Youth Employment Service
“I wanted to say thank you in this regarding Liz (with the rest of the administration, Suki & Jim) for their resilience through COVID and our IYB shutdown; in keeping the ship afloat and now we are back up and running full steam ahead.” – Kristin Letourneau, Recreation Support Services
“I was actually a student in the very first class at college that Liz taught and so I knew her walking into my interview and we have been working together for more than 20 years since…She has been a long-time mentor for me and the Recreation Department.” – Yolanda Marion, Recreation Department
Congratulations and thank you, Liz, for your many years of service to the children and families of Ithaca and Tompkins County. Here’s to many more years of shared successes at the YB!