03 Jul Board Member Spotlight: Collin Phaup
By Rebecca Smith
Collin Phaup has been a board member at Next Step for five years, and president of the board for two of those years. Over the last five years, Next Step has nearly tripled its budget. County coverage has doubled. Staffing has nearly doubled, and clients have grown by 140%.
“It’s really been one of the great pleasures of my life,” Collin says. “This was my first board, and to see it grow the way that it has and to see the impact that it’s made in the community, has just been tremendous. I’m in love with Next Step and what we do. I don’t see myself not being involved with Next Step in some capacity.”
Collin grew up in Tyler, then came back after attending college in Dallas. He and his wife moved back here to start a family and have two children. Collin has been a licensed insurance agent for 15 years and opened his own independent agency with Goosehead Insurance seven years ago. “It really fits my personality,” Collin says. “I like sales, I like talking to people. You get to be a private investigator but also a counselor for people sometimes. I love helping people.”
One of the aspects of Next Step that Collin most enjoys is the way Next Step’s different programs address mental health from multiple sides. “With counseling, our (substance abuse) coalitions, Sources of Strength, and Youth Mental Health First Aid, we cover such a broad overview of the issue that kids are facing,” Collin said. “We do it from such a great position because a lot of times schools will already know us from coalition work. I think it makes it easier for the schools to allow us to come in and provide care for the students, and then they really see the results of that. They tell us about improvement in attendance, grades, and behavioral issues.”
Collin was especially proud of the way Next Step responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Only three days after schools closing, Next Step had set up secure virtual counseling. “We keep finding ways to help,” he said. “It’s been really cool to see that transition as schools were closing down how quickly we were able to pivot to online counseling so the kiddos didn’t see an interruption in care. That was just tremendous. I really am thrilled to be here in an advisory role and see the great work we do.”
While there can still be a lingering stigma around mental health, Collin says that he feels that youth today seem to understand the importance of mental health maintenance perhaps more than previous generations. “That’s one of the most thrilling parts of this is seeing the kids buying into it and how much it’s helped them,” he says. “With our coalitions we come in with an educational role, and then we are also able to come in and provide those one-on-one services as well. These services are being provided at no cost, which removes a huge barrier to care for families. What’s been really cool with the coalitions is the mentorship and leadership roles that the youth are able to take on. It’s different when an adult tells you that ‘other kids aren’t using substances’ and ‘not everyone is drinking’ versus when another kid is telling you.” Collin believes that Next Step will keep expanding it’s geographic area and help even more youth.
“When I came in, not a lot of people knew who Next Step was,” he says. “That’s not necessarily the case anymore, especially in the Tyler area. The sky is the limit for us. As more schools see the benefits of the impact we have on students lives, we’ll keep expanding. I’m excited to see what improvements we can keep making in our community and our world.”