San Francisco, CA – January 21, 2014 | Jan Rao, who founded Bay Area non-profit Willows in the Wind, is a local winner of the prestigious Jefferson Award, which recognizes grassroots “Unsung Heroes” – ordinary individuals performing extraordinary deeds.
For the past six years, Willows has provided a free and safe place where parents in the Bay Area who have sent their children to wilderness programs, residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools or other recovery programs – as well as parents considering the option – can gather and discuss their concerns and express emotions freely and safely, as well as get access to resources to help them make this difficult and deeply personal decision. Rao and her staff are all volunteers, and spend countless hours supporting parents who often feel they have nowhere else to turn.
“Parenting teens and young adults who consistently engage in behavior that may hurt them or someone else can be incredibly scary and isolating,” says Rao. “It’s not easy to discuss what’s going on with friends and family, but these parents really need to talk to people who understand what they’re going through. Willows provides that safe haven.”