Youth & Shelter Services gears up for 2010 Friends Campaign

By Tammy R. Lawson

Central Iowa Press

Marshall County’s Youth and Shelter Services is making a difference – and planning so into the new year.

Youth & Shelter Services assists Tama, Marshall, Poweshiek, and Jasper County residents, offering various programs such as counseling, transitionalliving, family/team meeting facilitation, family development and self-sufficiency, bilingual outreach, transitional living and after-care for those who age out of foster care.

Holding its open house to promote the 2010 Friends campaign fund raiser Wednesday, YSS celebrated not only those who have volunteered their time during the past year, but to start a new beginning for those in need during the next.

“With budget cuts, we continually have to do the highest level of services we can with the money we’re allowed, so that’s why we have our Friends of YSS kick off,” said Director David Hicks.

The organization is hoping to raise $25,000 which Hicks said is quite a bit of money, but he is encouraged to reach the expectation.

“We’ve fallen short of that goal the last three or four years, so we’re hoping this is the year we reach that,” he said.

Last year, YSS served close to 1,000 youth and families with a variant of needs.

“Those are each separate people with separate stories,” Hicks said.

And a few of those stories have been compiled into a book entitled “From a Growing Community, Iowa’s Homeless Youth.”

Author Danny Heggen interviewed clients of YSS, documenting their homeless experiences from all over central Iowa – and one from Marshall County.

“These are brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren who have stories,” he said. “It helps us as a community get around an issue like this.”

YSS has become CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited, a three-year, highest national level given to youth serving agencies – meaning YSS performs at the highest possible standards.

The organization has recently subcontracted with Mid Iowa Family Therapy to start a community care program in Marshall County, working with families that may have had an unfounded child assessment, but the family still needs support and counseling to maintain a safe home for children.

In addition, YSS has become involved with MICA’s Rapid Rehousing Program which goes toward assisting homeless prevention.

Hicks congratulated staff, as well as volunteers, who offered support throughout the year including Hy-vee, Green Mountain-Garwin High School, Floyd Harthun, Dale and Marilyn Hicks, Marshalltown’s Assistance League and Darlene Coleman.

Heggen’s book is available for $20 and may be purchased at YSS, located at 11 E. State Street in Marshalltown.

For more information on how to assist with fund raising efforts, call YSS at 641-752-2300.