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Courtesy file photo. Chelsea High School graduate Jessie Ligi with SRSLY Chelsea Coalition Director Jesse Kauffman.

Jesse Kauffman, who has worked with SRSLY for the last seven years, has decided to take a new position at St. Joseph Mercy-Chelsea as a therapist in the Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic.

Below is his letter.

“After seven years of working with SRSLY, first as program coordinator and then as coalition director, I have decided to accept a position as a therapist in the Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic of the hospital. Since the success of SRSLY has always been tied to the strength of this community, I wanted to share this special message with you as I plan for my departure.

Seven years ago, when I joined the SRSLY team and was new to Chelsea, I was immediately struck by the way individuals and organizations within Chelsea intentionally and enthusiastically collaborate with each other. There is no shortage of evidence that this community has a strong sense of identity and a significant part of that identity is valuing our youth. From the abundance of support for and participation in the New Year’s Eve Party, to the more than 50 individuals and families who have already given to our Annual Appeal Campaign, it is clear Chelsea genuinely cares about the health and well-being of youth in this community.

I am honored to have served this community through SRSLY and participate with you in empowering our youth. Just through the simple act of inviting them to lead the way, I’ve been fortunate to witness five middle school students plan and execute a fantastic afterschool field day with fun activities, healthy snacks, and over 100 students attending. I’ve stood in awe of Chelsea middle and high school students receiving a standing ovation after presenting to a standing-room-only audience of adults from across the country in Washington, D.C.

SRSLY lets youth know we, as a community, believe in them and then they’re off meeting with members of Congress and receiving national awards. It has been a truly amazing journey to walk alongside them (and honestly, just trying to keep up with them). I have deep gratitude for being involved in this profound work and cherish the friendships and the impact it has had both in my life and in Chelsea.

Obviously, the work of SRSLY marches on as kids grow up and are confronted with the choices of who they will be and how they will get there. There is so much meaningful work still to be done: educating youth in the context of a culture that is growing increasingly dismissive about the risks of marijuana use for youth, celebrating 10 wonderful years of work as a coalition, and planning for the future to ensure our youth are healthy and heard as members of this community. The position of Coalition Director is posted here if you know of someone who would greet this work with wisdom and enthusiasm.

As for me, I’m pleased to say I’ll still be working with youth and adults in Chelsea and still with St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. I’ll begin my work as a therapist at the end of this month.

Thank you again for the unique presence each of you brings to this work and for letting me join in.

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