My experience being a part of Tailoring Youth to Succeed has been outstanding; they've helped me get multiple jobs and build my job skills. I've volunteered numerous times at Hilltop Community Suppers, which significantly boost my self-confidence and pride of accomplishment. Most recently, I've attended the college tour of Notre Dame University to absorb the atmosphere on campus and hear firsthand impressions from the students themselves. My total experience has been a 9/10, and I recommend that other teens join.
- Laniyah B. 11/25/2023
I've known Will Tunstall for 25+ years, and watching him fulfill his dream of helping the youth has been an exciting experience. His time and dedication to this program have made a difference and can be seen in the children's accomplishments. He's making a difference, one child at a time.
Keep up the excellent work, Will; you're a true rockstar!
- Raven Childs 7/7/2023
Working with Will Tunstall these past years has been a pleasure. It is inspiring to watch someone do what they love and show up for our youth. I had a chance to volunteer with Will for a workshop, and I was delighted to see how organized and determined he was. He went above and beyond. He always ensured the volunteers and members were comfortable and engaged. He asked questions to ensure everyone understood; if we didn't, he took the time to explain and answer all our questions. His passion is focused on "Tailoring Youth to Succeed," You can see that in his presentations, interactions, and commitment.
I can't wait to work with Will again.
- Ironee Baldwin 5/21/2023
Where should I start? Mr. Will has been an incredible mentor and role model to me. Since I first met him, I knew he would be essential to my life. Mr. Will is a good listener and gave me the best advice even if he didn't know what to say.
He found ways to brighten my day when I was having a bad day. Thanks to Mr. Will, I have grown into a mature and independent young lady. He's helped me build confidence and awareness of my strengths and abilities. As an athlete, supportive relationships are a high priority, and Mr. Will has become a trusted, caring adult that always cheers for my success.
He attended one of the most important tournaments of my wrestling career. With his cheers, support, and love towards me, I made it to the Illinois State competition. I placed in the top eight in my division. Part of that success I dedicate to Mr. Will! There are no words to express the gratitude I feel. I thank God for putting him in my life. One day I will make him proud and show him that his planted seeds have taken root.
Thank You, Mr. Will
- Perla L. 5/9/2023
I've known Mr. Will for over a year, and we have developed a meaningful and impactful relationship that has heavily benefited me. Mr. Will helped me realize many of my strengths I never thought to pursue and has pushed me to be a voice for change in my community. Along with encouraging me to push the boundaries of others around me to help create our vision. He has also brought out leadership qualities I never thought I had, and by discovering this, he has thoroughly guided me through being an effective leader. Finally, I appreciate his dedication to children in our community, but I mostly appreciate the times he held me accountable and kept me on the right track.
- Brody 3/12/2023
Will Tunstall has mentored my son for the past two years. He's genuine in his approach to guiding kids toward being successful adults. He holds them accountable and gives them a voice.
- Dustin Evitts 3/12/2023
I have known Willie Tunstall for the past three years. During this time, Willie has demonstrated a high degree of dedication toward serving the needs of students in the Algonquin and Carpentersville area. I first met Willie when he began his time as a mentor for youth ages 12-18. Over three years, I watched him help develop a large-scale program dedicated to student mentorship, but his ambition continued beyond there. Mr. Tunstall's larger goal was and still is to support Black and Latina students to enter the workforce successfully.
In the three years we have worked together, Willie has developed partnerships with several local and state-wide programs to hire and support high school youth. His responsibility in this work has been to connect teens to these existing programs, assist them in completing the application process, and prepare them for the interview.
Mr. Tunstall has demonstrated the drive and willingness to go above and beyond for students. He often brings students to school board meetings so they can better learn about board meetings' functions. He is a regular at the African-American Parent Advisory Committee, often with students depending on the topic of discussion.
- Adrian H.
I met Mr. Will about two or three years ago, and he has always supported families and the community. Mr. Will is passionate about helping teens grow, and he helped my son and nephew get their first jobs and continues to guide them in making good life choices. You can count on Mr. Will whenever you have a problem; he's a great listener. I am very grateful to have met him and that he is part of my kids' life; he is a great person.
Thank you so much for everything you've done and continue to do.
- Sincerely Thankful Parent 02/04/2023
Willie Tunstall has been like a father figure to me. He looks out for me and is like the father I've always wanted. When we talked, Willie genuinely listened, always making me feel heard and providing guidance. He stressed the importance of mental health and encouraged me to speak to someone about my anxiety, and offered resources.
Willie helped me and my friends get our first summer job at Brookfield Zoo. He checked in with us weekly to ensure we had a good experience. Also, he speaks about the importance of volunteering; as a result, I found joy in volunteering at Feed My Starving Children and D300 Food Pantry.
He is a fantastic mentor and role model that's made me a better person. He has done so much for us!
Mr. Will is one of the kindest and hardest-working people I know; I believe no one understands teens as he does. He has helped me in many ways: school, jobs, and life. He helped me get my first job at Brookfield Zoo, then my second job. I'm currently working at Duck A Diet.
He hasn't only helped me but other teens with career goals and life issues. I view Mr. Will as a mentor many students look up to and learn from him. He has taught me the importance of verbal communication and advocating for myself and others.
I really enjoy the program Tailoring Youth to Succeed offers, like volunteering, boxing classes, and digital media courses.
- Leonardo V. 01/03/2023
I was introduced to Mr. Willie Tunstall over a year ago at a parent meeting for District 300. During this meeting, Willie led a presentation about the high school programs for a Teen Center. Seeing Willie's passion for youth development and wanting teens to succeed convinced me to register my daughter. Willie's energy and approach challenged teens to thrive in life. As I witness my daughter given multiple opportunities to step out in some courageous ways because of his influence. I've known him to be a caring person who hears the concerns of others and wants to do things better.
I recall my daughter hesitating during the winter season about attending the center because snow covered the path to the center. When I mentioned this to Willie, he ensured the custodians cleared the way for all the students. That act of care communicated a lot to me as a parent that someone would not only do something about it but handle it quickly.
Willie made a conscious effort to communicate any concerns about my daughter or the center. These actions conveyed he is a person of integrity and transparency while keeping parents informed while they were in his care. He'd keep me informed if my daughter didn't attend the center. Willie is a person of commitment and follows through on his word; moreover, he expected that from my daughter in return. For that, I am grateful for his contribution.
- Roger S.
Connecting with Tailoring youth to Succeed (TYS) has been a game changer for our restaurant. As the holiday season approached, we needed to hire staff, and Willie was able to help us find the right new hire. As TYS provides guidance and structure to youth, we are thrilled to have an employee committed to learning new skills and earning an income.
I have only known Willie for a year. However, I feel like we are good friends. He is a good listener and uses his past experiences to help others be successful.
We hope to continue working with TYS for many years; it is a great partnership!
- Paula Voska; Incontro A Tavola 12/11/2022
Willie Tunstall has taught me stuff that no other person could. He modeled what hard work looks like and how to be successful. I wanted to find a job to help my mother with the personal things needed as a teen; as a result, Willie helped me get my first job at Brookfield Zoo.
Willie took the time to meet and understand my family and learn about our situation. He takes time to get to know teens and their families deeper than most. No one brings laughter and joy to others like him; he always knows how to help when he sees you're having a troubled day. Willie goes out of his way to make sure teens are okay. Willie showed me that we could trust him when we were in his care.
I flew to Washington, DC, with three other teens for an advocacy conference, and the experience was unforgettable because I knew someone cared about me. I've never seen a person with more compassion, effort, and love for a job, teens, or community. He's an authentic and vivid person with a constant positive attitude even after a bad day.
I have known Willie Tunstall for about a year, and I can tell you he is the kindest, most responsible, and most respectful person. He's committed to youth development.
The first time I spoke with Willie was to discuss an issue related to my son. Willie took the initiative to understand his situation and provided mentorship that helped him build confidence.
At some point, I had a problem with my daughter, and Willie was there for her and my family and helped us understand the situation. He helped her understand our perspective and addressed our concerns as parents.
I got to know Willie better when my daughter became a youth ambassador for a youth center. He was kind enough to call me and explain her responsibilities clearly. Later, she had the opportunity to attend a youth advocacy conference in Washington, D.C. Again; he took the time to call and explain everything that would occur leading up to, during, and after her return from the trip. He addressed all my concerns directly and clearly.
Summer Jobs -
He went on to help both my teens get a summer job at Brookfield Zoo. I observed him riding the bus most of the summer in the morning and evening with the students, ensuring they arrived at and from the zoo on time and safely.
Career Planning -
My daughter told me she wanted to take college classes in her Junior year of high school. I wanted to support her idea, but honestly, I couldn't guide her on that subject, and the only thing that came to mind was, "Let's ask Willie for help to explain how you can do it." Of course, there is a counselor at the school, but many students still need additional help, and some counselors cannot dedicate enough time to address all student's concerns.
Willie is always ready to help with a smile; he always gives his best, is willing to help, is always within reach of a message, and is committed to his work with students and their families, enabling us to achieve the goals for a better future for our children.
- Laura V.
Willie Tunstall has a caring personality, displays intelligence, and is inspirational. He has a way of speaking that inspires you; talking to him always helps me in challenging situations. He lets you know that you can do anything even if you cannot at that moment; he encourages you to push forward. I haven't experienced that quality in other adult mentors.
Willie noticed I was going through some difficult situations at home and school. I wasn't able to talk to anyone about it. He helped me set goals that would overcome these obstacles. Then we would meet biweekly. Willie has significantly shaped my life during the time I've known him. He created an inclusive space that promoted belonging and advocacy for myself and others.
He told me all the characteristics he saw in me, things I had never thought about myself. Willie taught me that I have potential and helped me embrace my skills; as a result, I view situations from a different perspective. Not only that, Willie ensured everyone had a voice. He puts a smile on everyone's faces because of how cheerful he is; he's a confident, dependable person. Willie has earned my trust, and I trust that he will help me through any problem.
Willie Tunstall is one of the most intelligent men I know, with a gifted talent for working with teenagers. His mentorship style is teaching teenagers advocacy skills and building confidence and self-esteem. As a parent, I value my children's safety; Mr. Tunstall has not only earned my trust but has exceeded my expectations. He has helped my daughter and other teens develop the character that makes a lasting impression and difference in our community. I truly appreciate him for that.
What stands out in Mr. Tunstall is how he communicates with parents; he continues to share information concerning our teenagers during trips, weekly check-ins, jobs, etc. There has never been a time Mr. Tunstall didn't involve the parents with what was happening with our teenagers, and I genuinely appreciate that.
Thank You, Mr. Tunstall, for everything you have done for my daughter, our kids, and the community.
- Nicole W.
Willie Tunstall holds teenagers to a high standard; as a result, we learned accountability goes both ways. Since he is someone we rely on, he never once failed us.
I worked at Brookfield Zoo this summer. Willie met with participants every Monday to check in regarding our experiences on the job. He always asked us if everything was okay, he helped us advocate for ourselves in negative and positive situations then he would discuss these situations with upper management to ensure our voices were heard.
I was having a difficult day at work and quit during my shift; Willie called and messaged me immediately to ensure I was emotionally okay. His priority wasn’t why I left; he just wanted to ensure I was okay.
I genuinely believe Tailoring Youth to Succeed (TYS) fills a particular gap for our young people today. Many communities lack resources for teenagers to find jobs and tools to equip them to prepare for what’s after high school. Without trusting and caring adults, many teens would not have the support or encouragement to plan for their future. TYS is more than a program; it's invested in people working alongside teenagers to help them become who they want to be. TYS impacts how they mentor and coach students because they value meaningful relationships. I know that TYS embodies a holistic approach to success, which makes this organization unique!
As a community partner, I’m grateful to work with Will and TYS. We care for many of the same students in Dundee Township, and it’s a gift to have like-minded people in the community. Young people need to know they matter and have a place in this world. I know we are better together as we serve teenagers to ensure they live whole and significant lives!
-Lauren Folkerts, Area Director of Dundee Young Life