Of the 2,000 names listed on the Florida Network’s Wall of Gratitude, each person plays an essential role in helping families during their darkest times. In this series, “Stories Under the Roof”, we will introduce you to some of these remarkable professionals and the stories that motivate them to show up and make a positive difference in the lives of Florida’s youth and families each and every day. Today, we would like to introduce you to Darian Blue, the Sr. Children’s Services Counselor at the Orange County Youth Shelter.

Has the pandemic changed your perspective on your work?

The pandemic has reminded me of the importance of being a counselor and why I pursued this field. During this unprecedented time, people are experiencing a vast array of mental health related symptoms, including: anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue, and grief. Counselors are important during these times of crisis and tragedy to help others navigate their stress responses and process their experiences. Working with youth during this particular time has reminded me that sometimes the most impactful action you can take is to simply be a genuine and caring person.

What do you want to tell the general public about the work you do?

The work we do and the services we provide for the community are crucial. Many times, families come to us for services (whether residential or nonresidential) because they are at their wit’s end and there is no one else who can help. They have already exhausted all the resources they know of and are at a loss for what their next step is with their child. Sometimes the families are looking for a short break from their child and a “cool off period,” other times the families are experiencing great hardship and need more intensive services. We not only provide a safe place for the youth to stay, attend school, and receive counselling services while at the Youth Shelter, but we also link the family to aftercare counseling services and other social services through our nonresidential programs like Family Counseling and SNAP.

What is keeping you motivated? 

I stay motivated by reminding myself that to everything in life there is a purpose, as well as a growing opportunity. This pandemic has brought out the worst in some people, but in the majority of people we have seen the outburst of genuine kindness, creativity and selflessness. Seeing these great acts of kindness and care have not only encouraged me, but also motivated me to continue to work and do my part to the serve the community at large. I may not be 3-D printing PPE for hospitals or hand-sewing face masks, but I can meet with a youth, listen to their story and provide reassurance and a safe environment during such an uncertain time.

What are you most looking forward to when this is over? 

After the pandemic, and once the state goes back to somewhat normal operation, I am looking forward to going on a vacation with my husband and celebrating his completion of a PhD program!


All of us here at The Network are so thankful for everything Darian does to care for the youth in and outside of her community. Individuals with compassion and generosity like her are what help The Network to grow stronger everyday!