On Thursday, Pat Lawler will receive a Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged in an online ceremony, https://www.multiplyinggood.org/what-we-do/jefferson-awards/attend-the-jefferson-awards/2020.

Without the COVID-19 pandemic, he would have been attending a gala in Washington that would have included actress Kristen Bell, who is receiving the S. Roger Horchow Award for Outstanding Public Service by a Private Citizen.

One by One

Since the mid-1990s, Youth Villages has served almost 70,000 children through its intensive in-home programs and one year after they discharge, 87% are living at home successfully.

But the challenge remains enormous: Almost a half-million children across the country are in the foster care system, about 120,000 available for adoption, and each year almost 20,000 of them will “age out” of foster care and attempt to make the transition to adulthood without support of family.

That’s where YV’s LifeSet program, typically aimed at young adults 18-24, comes into play. Now two decades old, the LifeSet model is used in 18 states and serves about 5,000 people a year.

The sheer scope of Youth Villages’ impact on young lives at risk is why Pat Lawler is receiving a Jefferson Award.

“And it all started right here in Memphis,” YV’s chairman of the board, Jimmy Lackie, said. “They have set the national standard because of measured outcomes. It ends up having a multiplier effect.

“You increase pressure on other nonprofits to improve their standards.”

But you do it one life at a time.

More Work to Be Done

Pat Lawler’s legacy is yet to be fully written, but Lackie gets excited just talking about all the lives that Lawler has influenced and how deserving he is of this Jefferson Award.

As for Lawler, he doesn’t much care for the word “legacy.” It feels like too much. Besides, the word is rooted in the past. And Youth Villages didn’t become what it has because Lawler was trapped in the past and old ways of thinking.

No, he held himself and the organization accountable. He still wants to be held to a high standard.

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Youth Villages corporate headquarters is located in Bartlett, TN.