NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – The woman who has been instrumental in the success of the non-profit ‘Youth-Go’ is leaving after nearly 20 years with the group.

Kelly Hicks will still be working in the non-profit sector as the Donor Services Manager for the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley. She told Local 5 News that she will still volunteer for the programs at Youth-Go that she helped create and or sustain.

“Our goal is to provide a safe and supportive place for young people after school and in the evenings,” Hicks explained. “We do everything from helping with homework, serving snacks and dinner every day, giving kids an opportunity to build connections and have fun, and get the support that they might need.”

Hicks spent 18 years with the group, 15 as the Executive Director.

After spending some time in Kentucky volunteering with Americorps, Hicks says she realized working with young people was her calling.

Shortly after starting with “Youth-Go” as an education coordinator, she took over the helm.

“I was 29 at the time, and the idea of the position terrified me, but I couldn’t imagine teaching anybody to love “Youth-Go” as much as I already loved it. So, the board had faith in me, and I gave it a shot.”

Hicks and “Youth-Go” serve an average of 40 to 60 kids every day in the Neenah and Menasha areas.

One of those kids was Angela Henry, who returned to the program as an employee.

“She was definitely one of the people that I connected with really quickly,” recalled Henry. “Kind of like a big sister, mentor. The thing about Kelly is she has always made it a priority to show up and work hard to make sure that we can do all of the things we need to do to support our kids.”

It’s a bittersweet time at the program, with Hicks’s last day on Friday.

But she’ll never forget her time here.

“It’s almost impossible to describe, right? I’ve spent so much of my life here. I think just having the opportunity to be a part of so many young people’s stories, and support them whatever challenges they were going through, helping them work through questions that they have or figure out what success meant to them, and to be able to be a part of that, I think is probably one of the most incredible experiences anyone can have.”

Change may be challenging, but she also looks forward to seeing what the next leader will do.