Youth and Family Services YMCA

By Lynda Millner   |   August 22, 2019
Youth and Family Services YMCA hosts Al and Marsha Roberson

Youth and Family Services YMCA gave a thank you party to generous donors that support this branch of the Channel Islands YMCA. Hosting at their beautiful Hope Ranch abode were Al and Marsha Roberson. No one went away hungry with bountiful platters of hors d’oeuvres and plenty of wine.

When I think of the YMCA, I think of exercising or swimming. There is a whole other aspect with many programs to help our youth. Executive director Valerie Kissell explained that this is a social service branch that serves over 1,000 youth and families annually through all of the programs.

In 2018, they served 4,075 meals to homeless and runaways. They provide programs to youth ages 12 to 17 that are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and homelessness through the residential services of Noah’s Anchorage. It is the oldest, having been around for 45 years. Noah’s also operates a 24/7 crisis hotline and drop-in center where families and youth can find support. When one boy was asked what he liked best about Noah’s, he replied, “I don’t have to rummage through garbage anymore.”

Youth and Family Services executive director Valerie Kissell with board chair Yolanda Garcia
YMCA board member Yonie Harris, CEO of Channel Islands YMCA Margo Byrne, and board development chair for Youth and Family Services Carolyn Williams

Special Services is excited to announce that due to the generosity of the Whimsie Fund and the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, Noah’s will be undergoing a major interior renovation project. You’d be tired too after 45 years. To make it a safe and quick renovation, their services will be curtailed. For more information, call 1.805.866.HELP, 9 am to 5 pm during renovation.

Young adults age 18-24 can find supportive housing in the program for homeless youth called My Home. Research tells us that 65 percent of young people leaving foster care don’t have a place to live and 40 percent will be on public assistance or incarcerated within four years. The staff provides work readiness training, life skills classes counseling and more. One youth, when asked what he liked about My Home, he said, “Utensils.” He must never have had much of a home.

Family Services even meets youth on the streets with their outreach staff that goes where they are. They offer safety planning and support. Still another program is the St. George Youth Center in Isla Vista where they provide afterschool enrichment and activities for youth and families living in the area.

Thanks go to all those folks who donate and keep these support groups going. They are truly life saving. For general information, you can call Valerie at 805.569.1103 ext. 32.


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