Reaching for the Stars

By Lynda Millner   |   May 10, 2018
YFS keynote speaker Avanti Alias with Phoenix the alpaca

For 19 years, Youth and Family Services (YFS, a branch of the Channel Islands YMCA) has held a fabulous dining experience. This year, they went all out with 15 chefs, plus SBCC culinary students and eight wineries and wines curated by Tama Takahashi for a five-course ultra gourmet dinner at Rockwood Women’s Club.

Guests began the evening with wine tasting on the terrace among the alpacas. Yes, there were three including a mom and her precious baby. They were not at all daunted by the crowd but just kept begging for carrots and posing for the “papparazi.” If you bought a $50 ticket, you were invited to a special alpaca party another day.

I think the chefs had as much fun preparing our meal as we had eating it. There was a wine pairing with every course. Board of managers chair Dr. Yonie Harris welcomed guests and introduced Outburst, the chorus from La Colina Junior High School. They owned the stage while they entertained with their singing and choreography. They also looked great in their turquoise dresses and black outfits with turquoise suspenders for the guys.

Executive director Valerie Kissell introduced the keynote speaker who has been involved with Youth and Family Services YMCA since 2010. She told me how excited she was to just have gotten her master’s degree and couldn’t have done it without the YFS programs and support.

Co-chairs for the YFS event Marilyn Gutsche and Lynn Karlson on either side of the executive director Valerie Kissell
Board chair of managers for YFS Yonie Harris and board member Jocelyn Montanaro

YFS is the independently managed and funded social service branch of the Channel Islands YMCA. One program is Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, which has served the community for 46 years, providing housing, food, counseling, and other basic needs. It’s a safe haven for thousands of youth ages 10-17. It serves the homeless, foster, runaway and throwaway youth.

Sr. George Youth Center brings quality after-school programs, enrichment opportunities, and recreation to low-income youth living in Isla Vista and northern Goleta. The kids can drop-in and stay away from gang activities, alcohol, and drugs.

My Home is their supportive housing program for homeless youth ages 17-24. They partnered with the City Housing Authority and opened their doors in 2011. They provide not only housing but also skills to help them on the road to independence.

Street Outreach Services teams reach out to youth living on the streets, offering basic needs assistance of all kinds.

Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call anytime: (805) 963-8775.


You might also be interested in...