A Message from CEO Chris Garr: Free to Be YC

Friends of YC,

About two weeks ago, on November 14, a motley crew of YC alumni gathered in the gym for a Friendsgiving potluck feast featuring a whole flock of rotisserie chickens, a few eclectic varieties of mac and cheese, fruit and veg trays from a multitude of local grocers, and some delicious homemade pumpkin zucchini breads. Nobody went hungry.

The lasting image etched in my mind was the absurd length of the dinner table which accommodated a huge crowd of old and new friends, coming “home” to their beloved YC to reconnect with each other in the very space that, for many, helped to shape who they would become and how they would channel their passion for making their own community stronger and their world just a little bit better.

You don’t need to be a historian to conclude that no power wheelchairs, iPhones, or assistive communication devices appeared at the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, but the sentiment of homecoming and gratitude for an extended family and the welcoming of new friends to an inclusive table was not missed.

Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 image of the American nuclear family around the Thanksgiving table, entitled, Freedom from Want, is a nostalgic nod to the “good old days” and is decidedly different in composition from the picture I took at YC’s Friendsgiving party. It was a different era and a very different social space than we now occupy in 2023, but, for me, it tried to represent an ideal of comfort without anxiety; one which we, as a people, still work to achieve but have a distance yet to go.

Experiencing my friends from multiple generations come together in the gym was a joyful breath suggesting in a powerful way a freedom of expression and identity. Alumni staff, volunteers, and participants doing exactly what we’ve always found to be so natural at YC, celebrating who we are and unapologetically celebrating our freedoms, grateful and thankful to have YC and its core values as the wholesome and hopeful thread always connecting us and pulling us closer, together.

May you and your family experience all the best that Thanksgiving brings, in peace and harmony. Please continue to do good for others, so that those who are unable to experience Freedom from Want will soon find what they need.

In gratitude,


Chris Garr
Chief Executive Officer & YC Alumni Volunteer
Youth Challenge