Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Does my child need to be in Winnetka to participate in your events?

Absolutely not! We see teens from Wilmette, Northfield, Glenview, and several other nearby areas, including Chicago. As long as you think your teen can benefit from the programming we offer, they are absolutely welcome here.

Q. What is the age range? Can a 12-year-old attend?

The Winnetka Youth Organization serves teens in 7th-12th grade. As long as a teen is within the grade range, they are welcome to attend our events. However, to perform in our Battle of the Bands and leadership groups, all members must be in grades 9th-12th.

Q. Is there an age restriction on volunteer events?

No, unless the location of our volunteering has an age restriction of their own. If that is the case, we will state as much on our flyers, website descriptions, and any other advertising. If the volunteer location does not have an age restriction, then any teen in 7th-12th grade is welcome to attend our volunteer events!

Q. How much do these programs cost?

For the most part, the programming we offer is free. If a program has a charge to it, it will be noted in the event description on our website, on flyers, and on any other advertisements we have for the event. All money we ever charge for a program goes directly back into offering more fantastic free programming for our teens.

Q. What type of teens do you serve?

We serve all types of teens! We offer a diverse schedule of programming, including gaming and music events, volunteer and leadership opportunities, and creative artistic workshops, in order to cater to every type of teen. Regardless of your child’s interests, we strive to make sure that there is a program they will enjoy on our calendar.

Q. Do teens just show up to events, or is there a sign-up/registration process?

We are a drop-in center, so it is not necessary to RSVP to events unless we specifically mention that we require it. However, it is always nice to be told in advance that teens will be attending, so that we can make sure we are well-prepared for our programming for the day. You can RSVP to events by contacting our program director, Mary Komlofske, at!

Q. Do you offer counseling services?

No, our role is not to provide counseling to our teens! However, we do follow counseling methodologies to create a welcoming space. If we see a teen in need of additional services, we make referrals to local services that can offer the support they may need. Only if a teen is in harm, harming themselves, or harming others, we will notify their parent/guardian immediately and/or DCFS and provide additional resources, if needed.

Q. Are you open all year round?

The Winnetka Youth Organization is open all year round! Scroll down our home page for our hours! Our hours are slightly different in the summer compared to the school year. Notably, we are in Washburne on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year–but we will have programming all year round. During the school year we are open M-TH (3 pm-7 pm), F (3 pm-9 pm) and during the summer, we are open M-TH (2 pm-6 pm), F (3 pm-7 pm). Saturdays, being our social service days, will vary!

Q. How are you funded?

The Winnetka Youth Organization is funded by grants, fundraising events, and donations from community members like yourself. Some of our primary funders are the New Trier Township and the Winnetka Park District. We fundraise through our annual benefit, selling items at community events, and through programming such as music events and our Pup and Car Wash. We are always accepting donations; if you support what we do, consider donating to the organization!

Christina Gikas, MSW

Christina Gikas, MSW

Executive Director

Christina discovered her passions and the importance to advocate for all youth during her undergraduate studies at North Park University. When volunteering in Chicago Public Schools, she grew to know and support youth from the inner city with their college aspirations. Christina continued to serve as a mentor to teens when she began pursuing her graduate degree at Loyola University Chicago's School of Social Work. She spent the summer serving high school students in the foster care system by providing them with guidance, education and emotional support. Today, Christina is delighted to take on the role of Executive Director at Winnetka Youth Organization and apply her experience, expertise, and creativity in empowering youth to be their true authentic self. She has a vision to expand WYO's programming, so that all teens can feel welcome and inspired.

When Christina isn’t working with teens, she is traveling abroad, going to concerts, and taking weekend trips to Michigan. Her favorite rock band at the moment is The Killers and she loves homemade Greek food!

Emma Kumin

Emma Kumin

Youth Worker Intern

Emma went to the University of Iowa where she studied Social Work and Business. She enjoys working with adolescents because they are creative, energetic, and hilarious! Emma is hoping to connect with teens and discover new ways of viewing the world through different perspectives. Her inspiration to become apart of the WYO was because she believes this organization embodies everything she values as a social worker. Some of these values include: advocating for all youth; engaging with teens and creating and authentic relationships that ultimately build trust and encourage positive outcomes.

When Emma is not in school, she loves to travel, exercise, listen to live music, and draw/paint. Her favorite sport growing up was dancing, but now she enjoys watching football, and her favorite food is french fries!

Mary Komlofske

Mary Komlofske

Program Director

Mary went to school at Purdue University and studied English Secondary Education. She believes that adolescents are at a particularly important part of their lives—they are in the process of forming their identities and determining who they are outside of their families in a new way. Mary learned from her own experience as a teenager, that the company you keep and the authority figures that reach out to you, can make a world of difference to how healthy and valuable this formative period can be. She enjoys working with adolescents so she can be as much of a positive force in their lives as she can. Working with the WYO, Mary believes she is helping to create a safe and comfortable space for these adolescents to discover themselves and learn to work with others in a productive way.

When Mary is not working with teenagers, she likes to read, teach herself how to play guitar, and play Dungeons and Dragons with her friends. Her favorite song is “Shut up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, and her favorite movie is Mad Max: Fury Road.

Looking for a Social Media Manager Volunteer

Looking for a Social Media Manager Volunteer

Are you a college student looking to build up your resume before entering the marketing or communications field? Don't get turned down due to the lack of experience! The WYO could be a great space for you to learn and grow your skills part-time.

The Social Media Manager Volunteer works closely with the WYO Team to communicate to our target population about the amazing events and programs we have coming up! You will learn how to effectively communicate to teens, their parents, and community leaders through our various social channels and marketing strategies.

Email your resume, cover letter, and references to our Executive Director at

Christianne Lariosa

Christianne Lariosa

Outreach Coordinator

What drew Christianne to the Outreach Coordinator position is that it mashes up her love of community organization and non-profit work. She had majored in Communications and minored in Urban Planning at University of Illinois at Chicago, studying to carve a career path focused on humanities. Originally designing and formatting for the WYO's Instagram and Facebook, she had been hired as the Outreacch Coordinator due to her experience and familiarity with the WYO's mission and growing love for the organization. The WYO's motto of providing a safe, informative environment for teens to be empowered and grow, is something she believes all youths to have access to. Christianne aspires to be as impactful to adolescents as her undergrad internship mentors; she hopes to make meaningful connections with teens to help increase their self-confidence and self-love, while increasing their life skill-sets.
Being a creative, it’s hard for her to choose her favorite things of all time, but her recent picks are Home by BTS and In The Mood For Love by Won Kar Wai, for song and movie respectively. Other than art in media - she enjoys biking, trying out new recipes to cook, reading, exploring museums, bopping at concerts, and hanging out with her pets or friends.
FALL-SPRING: Youth Worker Intern

FALL-SPRING: Youth Worker Intern

Are you a college or graduate student looking for additional volunteer opportunities and field experience? Join the Winnetka Youth Organization as a part-time youth worker intern! You will be apart of a team of professional staff, who hold a degree in either social work or education, that promote teen's individuality and strengths.

Our programs are meant to address teen's needs and utilize the staff's skills. There will be opportunities to create and facilitate programs focused on prevention, leadership, service, art & music, and cultural education. Interested?

Email your resume, cover letter, and references to our Executive Director at

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Reach Us

Winnetka Youth Organization

620 Lincoln Avenue, Winnetka, IL. 60093


Winnetka Youth Organization