“Huckleberry was very significant in my life.” – Michael’s Story

“Huckleberry was very significant in my life.” – Michael’s Story

Michael spent 30 years as a LCSW in Santa Clara County before recently retiring. He now runs a private practice in San Francisco. Pictured: Youth Advocates staff, ‘74, including Michael’s therapist Carolyn (center).

Like many high school seniors in 1974, Michael Gammino was feeling the pressure of attending
a very competitive college-prep high school and weighing his options for post-secondary
education. Unfortunately, too much of the pressure he faced his senior year came from conflict
within his home. Michael’s parents did not support his desire to attend college. “I grew up in a very traditional, semi-first generation born Italian-American home,” he said, “and college was not looked upon favorably. It was not approved of by my family.”

The intensity of a rigorous senior year, along with constant fighting with his parents, created immense distress in Michael’s life. He began experiencing difficulty sleeping,
mounting anxiety, and eventually, “I felt despair. Everything was starting to feel insurmountable.”

One fateful day, while walking through San Francisco, Michael saw an ad for Huckleberry House, “that was reaching out to youth who were feeling overwhelmed and needed to talk,” he said. “My therapist heard me. I felt validated, respected, empowered, and protected. She gave me hope; these were emotions and feelings I had not experienced in a long time.”

His initial meetings with his therapist, Carolyn, opened the door for family therapy so that Michael and his parents could address the crisis in their home. According to him those meetings, “provided direction for my family. It was a start for my parents to begin to understand my own needs and my goals. If it weren’t for Huckleberry, things would have gotten worse for me.”

“Youth and families get so confused, especially now with so much emphasis on and influence from social media. An agency like Huckleberry can assist and support a young person who is experiencing anxiety, isolation, conflict and difficulties of daily living and come up with a supportive and protective plan. Services such as these are crucial – they can become protective mechanisms that support and SAVE people. Particularly in our current time, youth need Huckleberry.”

Huckleberry Youth Programs | 3310 Geary Blvd. | San Francisco, CA 94118 | (415) 668-2622