Life got complicated, frustrating, and deeply depressing for Kaylynn Bartro.
At her lowest moment, the confused girl thought about killing herself.
“I just laid out knives across the bed,” Bartro recalled. “It was like pick and choose. But I didn’t go through with it. More than anything, I didn’t want anybody else to blame themselves for it. … I didn’t want my little brother to find me.”
Problems she had with her unsupportive, absent father only dumped fuel into her angry, violent moods.
All seemed hopeless – until kind hands picked her up.
Needing professional help, Bartro got it from staff at Auburn Youth Resources (AYR), a mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, youth and young adult residential center serving South King County.
Reluctant at first, Bartro in time became more comfortable with AYR staff, and after four years of participating in the AYR mental health program, which treats 500 to 600 kids in Auburn schools each year, Bartro got her once fragile life back together.
Today a blossoming senior at West Auburn High School, Bartro is ready to share her inspirational success story next Friday at AYR’s 24th annual Valentine Breakfast Fundraiser at Grace Community Church.
“Life picked up … (the treatment program) affected my life dramatically,” Bartro said.
Her guiding star is Elizabeth Shepherd, a youth and family therapist at AYR, who helped Bartro find and build her self-esteem – one brick at a time.
“Ultimately, therapy is about handling the anger … it’s about getting comfortable with feelings underneath that,” Shepherd said. “For her, it was about learning to love herself.”
Bartro’s disposition turned sunny, and her social skills improved.
“Kaylynn has come a long way, and I’m exceptionally proud of her,” Shepherd said.
Bartro credits many people for her transformation, but singles out Shepherd.
“I saw her, and it was like the light,” Bartro said. “It may sound cheesy, but Elizabeth is always the light. … She’s the light at the end of the tunnel. She’s the main reason that I’m still here.”
Surrounded by a large family and friends, the 17-year-old girl today has many interests. She enjoys studying foreign languages – especially Asian languages – and working on computers. Good at math, she is especially skilled at accounting.
Once bullied at school, Bartro has turned into a confident, enthusiastic young woman, with a plan. She is on schedule to graduate with honors in June and plans to go to college. A career in social work beckons.
“Now she’s ready to take wing a little bit into the future,” Shepherd said. “We’re proud of her.”
• Event: 24th annual Auburn Youth Resources Valentine Day Fundraiser, Helping Hands, Lifting Hearts. AYR works in association with ACAP, and Enumclaw Youth and Family Services
• Time, date, venue: 6:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 13, Grace Community Church, 1320 Auburn Way S.
• Program: 7 a.m. Jefferson High School choir performs. Staff and guest speakers.
• Seats: Call now to reserve a seat at 253-351-6059.
• More information: www.ayr4kids.org